Our pick of the most topical news around SEND issues this week
1.MBE for author of ‘instruction manual’ for autism
Deborah Brownson was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list. She is a mother of two autistic boys and author of “He’s Not Naughty! A Children’s Guide to Autism”, which has helped thousands of families in the UK and internationally. She has also run successful campaigns, coordinates a Facebook support group and is advisor to the BBC drama “The A Word”. A well-deserved honour in our opinion.
2.Escorts ‘essential’ to take disabled children to school
Reports on parents’ fears about the loss of escorts for taxi services due to cuts, about quality and training issues on school transport, and about the risks of children being alone in a taxi with the driver. This is yet another area in which the safety and wellbeing of disabled children is being affected by “austerity” cuts in public services.
3.Number of pupils in grammar schools at highest level in two decades, official figures suggest
Reports of the year-on-year rise in the number of grammar school places as existing grammar schools simply increase entry to cater for growing demand from parents. An analysis conducted by the BBC found that growth in grammar school places outstripped the growth in numbers of pupils in most areas. Education Policy Institute research shows that as the number of grammar school places increases in an area the penalties on those who miss out on getting into grammar school increase – and this will have an impact of pupils with SEND.
4.Thousands of pupils ‘denied mental health treatment’
In 2014 the Scottish Government introduced an 18 week waiting time target for CAMHS services. An unintended consequence of this is that thousands of vulnerable young people have had their referrals to CAMHS rejected, sometimes on what appear to be spurious grounds, over the past three years and are being denied the help they need.
5. MPs to investigate mental health provision for young people
Discusses the inquiry into mental health provision for young people launched before Christmas following the Green paper on the subject. The DfE and Department for Health are currently consulting on their proposals, which include mental health support teams providing treatment on school premises, and piloting a four-week waiting time for access to child and adolescent mental health services. Pressures are growing – just today the children’s commissioner talked about the report on the effects of social media on children’s levels of anxiety (www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/our-work/digital/) . Looking at the impact of statutory waiting times in Scotland (see below) we think that any such move must be accompanied by substantial cash increases for CAMHS services.