Baroness Warnock – the architect of the modern system of special needs education in England – closed the NAHT’s sold-out SEND conference in Nottingham on Friday.
In a well-received speech, the crossbench peer said she was optimistic that a new era of cooperation was being ushered in when it came to teaching children with special educational needs.
“A generation ago we tried to introduce a spirit of cooperation... it gradually withered away, and so I am happy it is back today,” she said. And she noted that she thought there was a lack of party politics in educational policy now – something she called a cause for “great optimism”.
However, when it came to the proposals for SEN contained in the Children and Families Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, she said she there were difficulties ahead.
“I have been urging a fundamental rethink of framework and provision for SEN, and this is the nearest we will get to it,” she said. “But what was promised as a huge change will founder on lack of resources.” She pointed out that she thought the proposed change from issuing statements to building individual plans for children would be “incredibly expensive”, and she criticised the Bill for not being bold enough, calling for a “radical change” in the way children with SEN are thought about.
Baroness Warnock was speaking at the end of the NAHT’s first stand-alone SEND conference in six years. As she finished her speech, she praised head teachers, urging them to be conscious of the very unique role they played in special schools, saying they “should blow your own trumpet loudly and clearly into the ear of ministers.”
Page Published: 04/03/2013