“We would welcome increased support for pupils, more training for teachers and support staff and a reduction in the overburdensome, time-wasting, bureaucratic processes associated with assessment of pupils' needs.
“Measures which speed up and make more accurate diagnoses of children's needs, and provide more information and support for parents and families, would be widely supported.
“There should be specialist training for staff on how to support diverse learners. For example, SENCOs (special educational needs co-ordinators) could be trained to have a more specialised role.
“A single, multi-agency assessment on the same day, rather than separate assessments on separate days, would be ideal but I fear this is unlikely to happen in the short or medium-term without major changes to the way different agencies involved operate and and co-ordinate their services.
“We are concerned about the whether local authorities will have the resources and ability to carry out their functions effectively in the face of cuts to jobs and budgets. Mechanisms such as the SEN statementing process are already often thwarted and rationed by constraints of time, money and bureaucracy. Once schools have used up their quotas, it becomes more difficult for additional children to receive the support they need. Smaller local authorities in particular often have difficulties because the SEN budget may be spent disproportionately on a few expensive cases. This is likely to become worse.
“The fragmentation of the education service will also make it increasingly difficult to operate a coherent programme for special educational needs and there is a danger that children could fall between different types of school.
“We fear that academies will create a two-tier education system that will damage the ability of local authorities to deliver central services, such as special needs support, to maintained schools.
“Free special schools would create an even more chaotic system that would risk segregating children with special needs instead of including them, hampering their development and also making it more difficult for other children to have positive attitudes to, and understanding of, their peers who have special needs.
“Voice believes that, where possible, children should be included in mainstream education provided they have the appropriate support.
“We would like to see a focus on individual achievement rather than attainment against national benchmarks as progress by children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) is often more subtle than can be detected by national tracking systems.
“It is crucial that any policy is suitably flexible and adaptable to reflect and accommodate the complex nature of SEN.
“Voice will study the proposals in detail and participate in the consultation.”
To help inform Voice’s response to the consultation on the Green Paper: Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability , do let us know your views. (For information, here is Voice’s official response to the DfE's pre-Green Paper consultation (Ocober 2010.)