Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Green Paper


I have just been watching a meeting of the House of Commons Education on Parliament TV, on the Internet.

Special Educational Needs Green Paper
  1. Lorraine Petersen OBE,  National Association for Special Educational Needs, Jane McConnell, Independent Parental Special Education Advice, Professor Geoff Lindsay, Director, CEDAR, University of Warwick, Sue Bourne, Head, The Avenue School, Reading
  2. Sarah Teather MP, Minister of State, Department for Education

All very civilised and affable, lots of polished oak and green leather. Not terribly well attended but the Chairman and Members did try to find clear answers.


I do hope that the experts left the Committee wiser than they left me. Responses continually failed to distinguish between disability and the far wider category of 'special educational needs' (with the talk veering towards disability) and  general responses were often diverted by some specific examples (again, often a disablility one)

The experts droned on for an hour...needs...speech and language...autism...early intervention...issues...budgets...support...parents as partners...mediation...skills...outstanding...assessment...assessment...assesment...
As often, it was not what was ctually said that was interesting. That was not a lot, the usual stuff. Not a single surprise, no spark of innovation, no glimpse of vision beyond the current battlefield. Not a word about pedagogy, about different kinds of 'need' and how to respond differently to these, nothing fundamental.

The Minister

Chirrupy and positive and plenty to say. She looks forward to great 'cultural changes', apparently important amongst these being 'engagement', 'dialogue', and 'resources used more effectively', with 'pilots soon to be rolling out'...

I have to confess that attention began slipping, letting go almost altogether as I heard: 'It is inevitble that local authorities will take the lead, as they have the long-term expertise of people who have had that role for a long time'.

No danger of anything fundamental there either.

What next?

Who knows? More of the same or – if it's money that you are talking about – less of it. The linked establishments, the political-bureaucratic and academic-professional, will continues to generate an ever-thickening fog of second- and third-order questions. Higher-order questions of what it's all about, fundamental questions of anomalous human mental development and how society might respond to these, will remain safefy buried – and we shall remain condemned to discussion, decision-making and wasted opportunity of the same sort as before.

A historic opportunity has been missed and another generation is back on the wheel.

Judge for yourself

It looks like this two-hour broadcast will stay at the following URL for a month:

After that it will be archived but remain available on line.

Previous item on the Green Paper

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Blogger NormanP said...

'It is inevitable that local authorities will take the lead, as they have the long-term expertise of people who have had that role for a long time'.

Compare ....

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

Tuesday, 17 May 2011 at 19:57:00 BST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've not yet found the time and will (after reading your posting!) to view the video. Just to say in relation to your observation that the respondents failed to distinguish between disability and special educational needs, I found this to be true also, and quite as confusing, in the Green Paper itself

Wednesday, 18 May 2011 at 05:19:00 BST  
Blogger Andrew Sutton said...

The Green Paper in this respect (as in others) is no more than reflection of a scandalous conceptual muddle that would be laughed out of court in any other field that I can think of.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011 at 08:28:00 BST  

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