For those of you who don’t know me, I am the father of a child with special needs. My daughter has a form of ASD. She’s seven now, and we are finally getting some help, but it has taken years of struggle – and I still doubt she is getting all the help she needs.
Five years ago, the Government brought in measures to improve the system which helps children with special educational needs. Wonderful, you might think. Alas, no. Eighteen months ago, an enquiry was set up to investigate how successful these reforms were. It’s report has now been published and you can read it here.
The Commons Education Committee (who conducted the investigation) found that the measures were a failure.
To sum up the report, MPs said they “had heard overwhelming evidence the changes were letting young people down day after day”.
The reasons? “unlawful practices, buck passing and a treacle of bureaucracy“.
Here are some highlights from the report:
- The government set councils up to fail by upping parents’ expectations while cutting council budgets
- Families are being torn apart as they fight for their children’s rights
- A generation of children and young people were not being given the support they deserved
- A child’s access to support is often determined by their parents’ level of education, their social capital or the advice and support of people with whom they happen to come into contact
- Parents are not well informed of the law
The most damning line says, “Parliament might as well not have bothered to legislate.”
The committee was chaired by Conservative MP Robert Halfon. Here’s what the right honourable gentleman had to say:
“Many parents face a titanic struggle just to try and ensure their child gets access to the right support.
“Families are often forced to wade through a treacle of bureaucracy, in a system which breeds conflict and despair as parents try to navigate a postcode lottery of provision.
“Children and parents should not have to struggle in this way – they should be supported.”
Pretty bad results for the Government. So, what have they to say on the matter? Well, they claim to be boosting funding and have commissioned a “root and branch” review of the system.
A DfE spokesman said: “No child should be held back from reaching their potential, including those with special educational needs.”
I certainly agree with him/her, but thousands of children are being held back. Call me cynical, but it seems to me that children and their families are being sacrificed on an altar of austerity.
I admit, I am pretty biased on this subject, so feel free to disagree. perhaps you could share your views in the comments section below.
And if you have any questions about education, you’ll find EQ’s Knowledge Bank very useful. We have scores of articles, each one aimed at answering a specific question asked by parents. As well as loads of info on schooling, you’ll also find plenty of advice and tips on raising happy and safe children. It’s the go to place for all your education or parenting queries.