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School leaders comment on Special Educational Needs report

Commenting on the Education Committee’s pre-legislation scrutiny on Special Educational Needs released today (Wednesday, December 19), Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: “As the union representing the majority of leaders in special schools, we are delighted to see the select committee have taken many of our recommendations onboard. Children with special needs are some of the most vulnerable people in our society and this legislation is very important.”

The NAHT agrees:

  • The scope of entitlement should be extended to disabled children and young people undertaking apprenticeships
  • There should be flexibility for young people who move in and out of education post-16 and those not in education, employment or training
  • independent special schools and colleges, academies and free schools should be included on the extended list of schools for which parents can express a preference

However, the association would like to raise its concerns over several areas of provision:

  • The joint commissioning of services could increase bureaucracy, which will slow down the identification of children in need and the provision of services to support them
  • A serious government commitment will be needed to ensure new procedures are a priority, otherwise financial constraints and reduced staffing will limit the success of any new initiative
  • Better involvement of health services would be useful, as some schools struggle to get the attention they need due to competing priorities and conflicting jurisdictions

Mr Hobby added: “As well as the above, what will really make for a better system is parents not having to fight for what they believe is the right provision, for endless bureaucracy to give way to early intervention, and for the continuum of provision that exists to be used far more flexibly than at present by recognising the value of short-term, part-time and dual roll placements, which the Bill has almost entirely overlooked.

“Ultimately, the devil is in the detail. While we can agree with many of the principles expressed thus far, much of the critical information in this bill will be filled in later. The lack of detail raises concerns that the principles will not be achieved.”

 Ends

The report can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmeduc/631/63102.htm

Page Published: 19/12/2012