Wednesday, 5 September 2012


A very quick first skim through

Rushed out ahead of expectations, on 3 September, the Government's draft legislation on the future of 'special educational needs and disabilities', presumably the last executive act of outgoing Minister Sarah Teather whose name it bears.

Her successor... may simply take it as it comes and feed the whole melange into the bureaucratic mincer for the attention of Parliament, or just possibly recognise the necessity of a trip back to the drawing board. I am always willing to be pleasantly surprised, but I will not be not taking bets on the latter.

You can of course read the whole document on line:

Big job now for conductors, managers, trustees...

Eternally the optimist I would like to imagine that those responsible for providing conductive services in England and Wales will be doing just that, going through the whole document in detail avid to spot its opportunities and its stumbling blocks for their own service, and discussing it fervently and openly  for the furtherance of the common good:
  • In doing so they will be undoubtedly be delighting in its antediluvian criteria to identify the subjects of its concern, thrill at the bureaucratic measures proposed to curb bureaucratic ineptitude and abuse, and stand in awe of the future transparency and openness to be experienced by service-users, children and their families.
  • They might be a mite disappointed to see how dull a topic inclusion becomes when reduced to 'mainstreaming', and they could be outright puzzled how in 2012 such quaint credence is given to the notion and validity of prescriptive 'assessment', not least in a context in which effective intervention might be intended ヨ though they will doubtless be reassured by their experience of the flexibility and good will of 'the system' in adapting promptly to developmental change.
  • They will doubtless look forward to the potential of 'personal budgets' for funding services that may be a little out of the ordinary. Exploring this in practice, with real families and real costings, will be an exciting prospect for all involved. This will be just one of the matters that might generate dispute, mediations, adjudication etc., with administrative procedures outlined to suit.
  • They can also look forward to children themselves' making appeals,and to making formal claims against their schools. This will be a novelty.
  • I see that local authorities are still empowered to pay fees and other costs for children receiving special educational provision outside England and Wales. I wonder...
  • And of course they can still pay for children to attend schools within England and Wales but outside the state sector.
It goes on, touching particularly upon information and communication (looking a little top-down), there is a code of practice, stuff about special schools (thankfully called spades, not 'specialist schools') and, even more welcome, honest admission that some children and some parents may lack capacity to make much of all this.

I hope, by the way, that no one will be expecting Conductive Education, motor disorders, physical disability or such particulars as cerebral palsy, to be specifically mentioned here... That does not mean that provision of relevant services will not be affected in perhaps fundamental respects by this document and what it will lead on to.

What is not here
  • Open philosophical statement of what this is all is for, indeed who it is all fo
  • Where it is supposed to lead, for the individuals involved and for society
  • Pedagogic principles ヨ indeed pedagogy at all, why its is central and how it it transmitted
  • The context of upbringing, in and out of the school
  • Any sense of caring
  • A hint of self-doubt, intellectual and moral

Not yet

The final draft of the Bill will not be published till Spring 2013 (that is, if present timetables are adhered to). There will be all sorts of chances for lobbying for change before then, Parliament will have to debate it, in both Houses, leading to further changes, and of course there will be secondary legislation to fill in detail...

I very much hope that I personally shall do no more that spectate – then I have no continuing  employment requirements. So, what are you going to do about it.


– (2012) Draft legislation on reform of provision for children and young people with special 
educational needs (Cm 8438), September

PS   Obituary, from Facebook
And so farewell,
Ms Sarah Teather
You were Minister for Children and Families
And responsible for 'special educational needs'.
Now you are just Liberal Democrat MP for Brent
And the special needs have someone else in charge:
Mr David Laws,
He of the interesting expenses.

Will it make an iota of difference?

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