The Educational Rights Alliance has been following the progress of the Children and Families Bill keenly.
We have noted the following:
- the absence of real parental engagement and consultation
- the lack of involvement by children and young people
- the domination of large charity consortia in implementing these reforms
- the lack of evidence supporting these reforms (see, for example, this article). This includes a failure to reference and build on the substantial evidence already gathered about the SEN system (academic and otherwise) and a failure to engage with the systemic problems widely documented in relation to inclusion and equality
- the limited and sketchy evidence gathered from Pathfinders. Many LAs are not trialing direct payments despite being offered extra money by the Government to do so. Many who say they are trialling direct payments are merely offering them for provision which could have attracted direct payments without a pilot (e.g. transport).
- the absence of evidence that the switch to Education Health and Care Plans will result in any improvement in access to education and equality for children with SEN/disabilities
- the failure on the part of all those groups promoting these reforms to explain what evidence they have that this Bill will make things better for children and young people
- the significant concern at the potential 'marketisation of SEN provision' - see SENDirect
- the anxiety expressed by some teachers/SENCOs that the switch to EHCPs will lead to a drive to reduce the number of children with legally enforceable provision
- the criticism of the new draft SEN Code of Practice. In particular, we note that it may actually make things worse for pupils as it erodes their rights. See responses from IPSEA, EDCM, CDC, Children's Commissioner
- the lack of a human rights based approach to this legal reform when the reform so clearly touches on individual rights
In view of all these concerns, we believe the progress of the Bill should be halted.
We believe there should be a moratorium now and that a widespread, open consultation should begin.
The Educational Rights Alliance believes that reform which engages human rights must be forward-looking, progressive and inclusive. Human rights standards should run through this Bill like a thread. The lives and education of our children and young people are too important to be squandered on reforms which lack this commitment or any obvious evidence base.
We ask individuals with SEN and disabilities, parents, academics, charities, teachers, teaching unions, and schools to stand with us and demand a MORATORIUM.
You can contact your MP directly via this link to make this demand.
And you can also take action by following IPSEA's action plan here.