Summary of Green Paper
Foreword by the Secretary of State
Improving the achievements of children with special educational needs is part of the crusade for higher standards launched with our White Paper, Excellence in schools. We are determined to show that children with SEN are capable of excellence. We want to hear from those with an interest in SEN about what should be done to raise standards for these children. That is why we have published, for consultation, a Green Paper called Excellence for all children: Meeting Special Educational Needs.
1 Policies for excellence
Our policies for raising standards are for all children, including those with SEN. Early identification of difficulties and appropriate intervention will give children with SEN the best possible start to their school lives. Our initiatives for improving literacy and numeracy, introducing target setting for schools and opening up new technologies will help children with SEN reach their full potential.
-- our plans for raising standards, particularly in the early years, will be beginning to reduce the number of children who need long-term special educational provision;
-- there will be stronger and more consistent arrangements in place across the country for the early identification of SEN;
-- schools and parents will have higher expectations of the standards children with SEN can attain;
-- target setting, in both mainstream and special schools, will take explicit account of the scope for improving the achievements of children with SEN;
-- new Entry Level awards will be available for pupils for whom existing examinations at 16 are not appropriate; and
-- there will be more effective and widespread use of Information and Communications Technology to support the education of children with SEN, in both mainstream and special schools.
Q1. What more should be done to ensure that children with SEN are given the best possible start to their school lives and are able to reach their full potential?
2 Working with parents
Parents of children with SEN face exceptional pressures. We want to help them cope with those pressures, and to give them real opportunities to influence and contribute to their child's education, working in partnership with schools, LEAs and other statutory and voluntary agencies.
-- all parents whose children are being assessed for a statement of SEN will be offered the support of an independent 'Named Person';
-- parent partnership schemes will be in place in every LEA in England, and will play an important part in supporting parents of children with SEN; and
-- improved arrangements for encouraging dialogue between parents, schools and LEAs should be reflected in a reduction in the number of appeals to the SEN Tribunal.
Q2. How can we provide effective support for parents and swift resolution of disagreements?
3 Practical support: the framework for SEN provision
A robust framework for assessing and monitoring SEN is essential. But too often at present resources intended to support children with SEN are being diverted to procedures and paperwork. We want to achieve high quality provision with less emphasis on the need for statements.
-- a revised version of the SEN Code of Practice will be in place, preserving the principles and safeguards of the present Code, while simplifying procedures and keeping paperwork to a minimum;
-- there will be renewed emphasis on provision under the school-based stages of the Code of Practice, with support from LEAs and greater assurance for parents of effective intervention, particularly at stage 3;
-- the result of these improvements will be that the proportion of children who need a statement will be moving towards 2%; and
-- the great majority of SEN assessments will be completed within the statutory timetable.
Q3. How else might we improve current arrangements so as to focus on practical support for children with SEN?
4 Increasing inclusion
The ultimate purpose of SEN provision is to enable young people to flourish in adult life. There are therefore strong educational, as well as social and moral, grounds for educating children with SEN with their peers. We aim to increase the level and quality of inclusion within mainstream schools, while protecting and enhancing specialist provision for those who need it. We will redefine the role of special schools to bring out their contribution in working with mainstream schools to support greater inclusion.
-- a growing number of mainstream schools will be willing and able to accept children with a range of SEN: as a consequence, an increasing proportion of those children with statements of SEN who would currently be placed in special schools will be educated in mainstream schools;
-- national and local programmes will be in place to support increased inclusion; and
-- special and mainstream schools will be working together alongside and in support of one another.
Q4. What needs to be done so that mainstream schools can educate children with a wider range of SEN?
5 Planning SEN provision
Whether in mainstream or special schools, children with the most severe and complex difficulties will continue to need specialist support. We shall encourage regional co- operation so that specialist facilities, whether from the maintained, voluntary or private sectors, are available when and where they are needed. LEAs will make decisions about changes to their special schools in the light of this regional co-operation and guidance from the Government.
-- regional planning machinery for SEN will be in place across England, helping to co-ordinate provision for low-incidence disabilities, specialist teacher training and other aspects of SEN;
-- there will be clear guidance to support the effective development of special schools in the context of a policy of increased inclusion; and
-- new arrangements will be in place to safeguard the interests of children with SEN who are placed in independent schools.
Q5. How can local authorities and others co-operate most effectively to provide specialist SEN support?
6 Developing skills
Professional development - for teachers and others - will be needed if staff are to have the skills, knowledge and understanding to make a reality of our proposals for raising standards for all children with SEN.
-- there will be a clear structure for teachers' professional development in SEN, from a strengthened attention to SEN issues in initial training through to improved training for headteachers, SEN co-ordinators and other SEN specialists;
-- there will be a national framework for training learning support assistants;
-- there will be national guidance on training governors to carry out their responsibilities for pupils with SEN; and
-- there will be national agreement on ways of reducing the time spent by educational psychologists on statutory assessments and maximising their contribution in the classroom, and the training necessary for their developing role.
Q6. What more should be done to improve the training of teachers and other professionals working with children with SEN?
7 Working together
The Government, LEAs, other local agencies and business need to work together in supporting the education of children with SEN. Their contributions need to be developed, improved and co-ordinated to achieve our aims of raising standards, shifting resources to practical support and increasing inclusion.
-- there will be new arrangements for disseminating up-to-date information about good practice in SEN provision;
-- there will be improved co-operation and co-ordination between LEAs, social services departments and health authorities, with the focus on meeting children's special needs more effectively;
-- speech and language therapy will be provided more effectively for children who need it; and
-- the Government will be collecting information about the experiences, once they have left school, of young people with SEN, to help schools and colleges prepare young people for adult life more effectively.
Q7. Are there gaps in current provision which could be filled through better information or co-ordination?
8 Principles into practice: emotional and behavioural difficulties
We want to put our principles into practice for all children with SEN, including one group which presents schools with special challenges - children with emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD). The number of children perceived as falling within this group is increasing. We need to find ways of tackling their difficulties early, before they lead to under-achievement, disaffection and, in too many cases, exclusion from mainstream education.
-- a national programme will be in place to help primary schools tackle EBD at a very early stage;
-- there will be enhanced opportunities for all staff to improve their skills in teaching children with EBD;
-- there will be a national programme to offer support to EBD special schools experiencing problems; and
-- there will be expanded support for schemes designed to renew the motivation of older pupils with EBD.
Q8. How can we help schools provide effectively for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties?
Whether you are the parent of a child with SEN, a teacher, a governor, or concerned with education in other ways, we welcome your views. Please send your comments to Alison Britton, SEN Division, DfEE, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3BT; or you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 9 January 1998. Under the Code of Practice on Open Government, the Department may make responses available on request, unless respondents ask for their comments to remain confidential.
Copies of the Green Paper are available from the DfEE Publications Centre on 0845 60 222 60.