Has systemic failure become part of the SEN system itself?
Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said:
”Children with SEN, and their families, must be treated fairly by councils so they receive the support to which they are entitled. It is not acceptable when pupils miss out on crucial education, are unlawfully excluded or have their education opportunities adversely affected.
“A common phrase we hear from families when resolving a dispute about SEN is that it feels like a constant battle. It should not be this way. When things go wrong it is vital that councils act quickly to avoid children being disadvantaged.”
The LGO receives more complaints about education and children’s services than any other area, with 17% of its 20,186 complaints in 2012/13 being in this area. Complaints about SEN provision accounted for 8.6% of all education and children’s services complaints.
So what goes wrong? This from the report "Special Educational Needs: Preparing for the Future".
"Based on our complaints, some of the most significant areas of concern are:
It all sounds horribly familiar. So it is, year on year. Apparently the complaints received in 2013-14 so far are running at a similar level. What that suggests, perhaps counter-intuitively, is that "the cuts" have not impacted on the number of complaints. In other words, this level of complaint - the level of failures in service provision of the kinds listed above - has become normalised as part of the SEN system itself. This level of failure of children and their families is simply tolerated by the SEN system as collateral damage in its very functioning. It's what keeps it in business.
"The role of the educator can be understood in terms of quantum dynamics: each moment you stand before a group of learners, many possibilities exist, yet only one will emerge."
Different. Makes a change from the trite "unlocking potential" of so much edubabble.
A challenging read. But worth it. Cracking open the curriculum.
Begins with a great quote from Jeanette Winterson, The Stone Gods:
“‘I hate it when you talk like this . . .’
‘I merely observe that this is a quantum Universe and, as such, what happens is neither random nor determined. There are potentialities and any third factor – humans are such a factor – will affect the outcome.’
‘And free will?’
‘Is your capacity to affect the outcome.’”
From a favorite blog, Mark Nearty's "Love, Belief and Balls":
For a long time now I’ve struggled with the idea that autism is a disability. Instead of a nice neat “disability” label that firmly establishes the power dynamic, I’ve started to see Steven’s autism just as a difference. Different framing. Different relatedness. Different communication. Different priorities. Different frequency. Different connectedness to the world around him. It’s easier for us to categorise this as a disability because to think any other way forces us to challenge our notions of reality. We may have to reconsider our ideas about how we frame, how we relate, on what frequency we operate.
Not "disability" but "difference".
Makes you think.
Not "special educational needs" but "difference"?
What if "special educational needs" has no more reality than Mark sees "autism" as a disability? ("a nice neat label that firmly establishes the power dynamic")
What then of the nearly 1 in 4 boys who is now said to have a special educational need? Just boys, perhaps? Just "different" maybe? (So if 1 in 4 are "different", then what about the other 3 - Not "different"?)
Think of the disarray!
That led me to the School's website. Actually, I'd been to the website before so was suprised that I had not then noticed in the header their tag-line "re-imagining potential".
Now I tend to bang on about potential. Particularly, objecting to glib formulations such as "unlocking potential" or "releasing potential". You'll find a couple of posts or more on this blog if you use the Search tool and put in "potential". Posts such as these:
In what way (I asked) is "Progress against appropriate measures" any more a measure of learners achieving their potential than it is of teachers teaching to their potential, especially when no-one can possibly yet know the "potential" of either learner or teacher? And when, if "potential" has any meaning whatsoever in education, it can only be something that is not "achieved" nor "fulfilled" but "created".
Is potential "spotted" as Les Ebdon says or created? (March 2012)
Personally, (I wrote) I find the idea that "potential" is somehow innate, waiting to be "spotted" in children just 7 years old (or younger, or older, take your pick), presumes an utterly negative view not just of education (of learning and teaching and upbringing) but of Humanity in general.
So it was a delight to come across "re-imagining potential" which the Ruskin Mill Trust use for each page of their website including their Brantwood School page. I wish I had thought of it myself.
Is Personalisation failing? Professor Simon Duffy, the founder of "In Control" thinks so. ("Personalisation was supposed to empower vulnerable citizens. It has failed." Guardian 30 January 2014. Some of the Comments are interesting, too.)
Intended as a more flexible and efficient system with people having more control to create solutions built around their own lives, Simon Duffy says Personalisation has become in too many cases,
Worth reading alongside Simon Duffy's Guardian article is the latest blog post from Jenny Morris “If you don’t know your history, you’re like a leaf that doesn’t know it’s part of a tree”. She runs through the history of personalisation in the UK which led to Improving the Life Chances for Disabled People in 2005 and Putting People First in 2007. Like Simon Duffy, Jenny Morris sees reasons for not being cheerful:
"Throughout the last 30 years, disabled people have struggled, but failed, to establish a right to independent living. .... There is also no entitlement to support to use direct payments – in the way that was envisaged by Centres for Independent Living" and she, too, sees the encroachment of bureaucracy: "Local authority social services departments remain in control over how people access support. For all the rhetoric about ‘personalisation’ and ‘choice and control’, the process of getting a personal budget or direct payment is usually dominated by complicated procedures devised by the local authority because they fear risk, mistakes and fraud. And because all too often people working in statutory, and some voluntary sector, organisations think that they know best."
Another very worthwhile read, stimulated by Simon Duffy's Guardian article is Mark Neary's latest posting "The Personalisation Problem" on his blog "Love, Belief and Balls". Mark, as ever, locates public policy and principles firmly in the lived experience of his own life and that of his son, Steven.
Local authority budgets are undoutedly severely reduced but blaming "the cuts" doesn't wholly cut the mustard, not for me, anyway. For me, Jenny Morris, in her final paragraph is much closer to the truth of it, the cultural failure on Rights:
The problem is that access to the resources which would make independent living possible is still determined by those who, all too often, have little or no understanding of where current policies come from. There remains a yawning gap between policy rhetoric and reality, a gap made possible because – as 30 years ago – disabled people still do not have a legal right to choose how they receive the support needed to go about their daily lives.
California has had the Lanterman Development Disabilities Act since 1977: a statutory right to services and supports that enable disabled people to live a more independent and normal life. I first heard of the Lanterman Act and saw something of its operation in 2007, as part of my Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship.
(One aspect of the Lanterman Act that, being in the voluntary sector, always struck a chord with me was Section 4620 which reads in part: "The Legislature finds that the services provided to individuals and their families by regional centers is of such a special and unique nature that it cannot be satisfactorily provided by state agencies. Therefore, private nonprofit community agencies shall be utilized by the state for the purpose of operating regional centers."
" .... of such a special and unique nature that it cannot satisfactorily be provided by state agencies ....". Including, in the UK, local authorities, no doubt.
Perhaps, sometimes, we in conductive education should just be a whole lot bolder.
What if, while reading today, I had come across this about conductive education? What would you think?
This book is not about making incremental improvements in the education of children with motor disorders such as cerebral palsy. Conductive education describes and urges nothing less than a transformation in the practice of the education and upbringing of such children and, more important, in how people think about their education and upbringing. My intent is to explain a compelling, logical, philosophically-founded yet completely practical approach for every parent and teacher, one that renders it impossible to ever think of the education and upbringing of chidren with motor disorders the same way again.
Would you want to read such a book?
Actually, the book I was reading was not about conductive education at all. What indeed I was reading was "Boards That Make a Difference" by John Carver. What he wrote - just so you can see what that actually was and not assuming you can share my interest in good governance - was this strikingly bold statement:
This book is not about making incremental improvements in Boards. It describes and urges nothing less than a transformation in the practice of governance and, more important, in how people think about governance. My intent is to explain a compelling, logical, philosophically-founded yet completely practical approach to every governing board's job, one that renders it impossible to ever think of boards the same way again.
And yet .... if, when we are explaining conductive education, our explanation does not render it impossible to ever think the same way again about the education and upbringing of children with motor disorder, can we hand-on-heart say we really got the message across?
Just a quick 'heads up', as they say.
A friend of Paces, John Rudkin, one time head of education sevices for Apple UK, and someone with a deep interest in teaching and learning (a man not afraid to use the word 'pedagogy'!) posted the following link on Facebook: "The Maker Movement and the Rebirth of Constructionism". This link leads to the infographic below which in turn leads to 2 more links for those interested in pedagogy - and who in conductive education isn't? (a) the original blog post from which the infographic derives and (b) Simple Psychology on Lev Vygotsky
Seek out and enjoy.
Six special free schools for pupils with autism and six more on the way? None for pupils with cerebral palsy? And you explain that, how, I wonder?
Oliver Colvile (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, Conservative) To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many free schools for autistic children have been set up in the UK; and how many such applications are currently being considered by his Department.
There are currently three open special free schools and three special free schools in the pipeline that cater specifically for autistic children.
There are also three open special schools and three special free schools in the pipeline that cater in some way for autistic children.
We are currently assessing the most recent round of free school applications. Successful applicants will be announced shortly.
This from Mumsnet. Can you help?
I have two children aged 3 and 5 who both have got celebral palsy. They both have just been given statements however the school I asked for the LEA has not agreed to it so we are going to tribunal. They have said they are suited to a maintream school.
However I have been sending them privately funding it to a non maintained special school for conductive education in sheffield. They have been going for 6 months and have improved a lot in their attempting to try and walk and even academically. Both the consultant and physiotherapy have said they have seen really good progress with both kids since they have been going there and have also written this down for the tribunal
However I have been told that an Independent Educational Psychologist who has a knowledge of conductive education is what I need as a IEP carries a lot more than a consultant and physiotherapy however I just can't seem to find one who specialises in conductive education. Found 3: Albert Reid, Mike Davies, Suzie Mitchell but they are booked up for 6 months I need one in the next 6 weeks does anyone know one. I wish I had known this earlier as I would have been well prepared.
If you can help at all, please leave a message here as a Comment or email me (address to right).
This appeal was first picked up by Andrew Sutton on Facebook/Conductive World market.
"If you read IPSEA’s very thorough analysis of the proposed legislation and Code of Practice, you will find a long, and quite frightening, list of existing protections which are not mentioned in the proposed reforms". So says Special Needs Jungle - and more besides.
At last week's local authorities SEN conference, Edward Timpson, Minister responsible for reforms apparently had this to say: "“Aside from promoting much greater collaboration, they (the reforms) keep existing protections in the system and extend them from birth to 25, with a clear focus on outcomes and a better transition to adulthood”.
No they don't, says SNJ, pointing to detailed IPSEA analysis of current and new Regulations and Code of Practice.