Our pick of the most topical news around SEND issues this week
1.Where To Find Sensitive Santa’s Grottos In The UK, For Kids Who Have Special Educational Needs
Lists five shopping centres and venues in England and Scotland whose Santa grottos cater specifically for children with SEND. Some have specific “quieter” hours for children and others reduce the amount of festive-themed characters around the grotto. In some cases parents can book slots ahead of time. Huffington Post promises to update the list with more venues as they hear of them.
2. Amanda Spielman on the launch of Ofsted’s Annual Report 2016/17
The Chief Inspector of Schools launched Ofsted’s annual report, which includes an acknowledgement of the enormous inequalities with which young children start school, especially in language and communication. It also mentions the topics of off-rolling and exclusion of SEND pupils, bemoans the exclusive focus on KS2 SATs in Year 6 in some schools, and the need for improved education of young offenders in secure provision – many of whom we know have SEND needs.
3. #ToYouFromTes: The myth of inclusion
A challenging article by Rob Webster of the Centre for Inclusive Education at UCL. His research confirms what many of us have long observed and deplored, what was once described to me as “the geographical model of inclusion”. Many children and young people with SEND are educated in mainstream schools but separately from their peers for much of the time, with more interaction with TAs and less with teachers. His statistics are stark and bleakly impressive.
4. Exclusive: Funding shortfall for most vulnerable pupils set to triple
Discusses mounting fears for the future education of high-needs pupils. Last month, it emerged that there is a £100 million shortfall in the SEND budget across London. High-needs pupils will further lose out under the new funding system in which councils will have less flexibility to cover shortfalls using money from elsewhere in the schools budget. There is no doubt to any of us working in the field that this shortage is now affecting the education of our most vulnerable children – and in the long run, will cost the country dear.
5. Justine Greening unveils strategy to increase poor children’s opportunities
Education Secretary Justine Greening unveiled the government’s strategy for closing the gap between rich and poor children. There will be an increase in nursery funding to narrow the language and communication gap amongst young children who “can’t make the best of their school years” and lessen the impact this has on the children’s education right through school. Alongside the nursery funding, policies to be announced by Greening include £23m for a “future talent fund”, targeted at bright students from poorer backgrounds, and closer cooperation with businesses in providing apprenticeships and drawing up technical qualifications.