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EQUALS is a not-for-profit registered charity, first formed in 1994, committed to supporting the work of teachers, TAs, schools and parents/carers of pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) severe learning difficulties (SLD) and moderate learning difficulties (MLD).

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This forum is for professionals working with pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities (PMLD, SLD and MLD). There are articles and news items from Peter Imray; our Director of Developments and from other EQUALS Trustees. You can also read about new and exciting developments from the EQUALS charity.

We also welcome contributions from members, so should you wish to contribute an item, please email your item to  our Strategic Development Officer; Paul Buskin at paul@equalsoffice.co.uk


Budget cuts and school finances, are a major agenda item for schools across the UK at this time, and the ‘National SEND Forum’ have not only recognized and acknowledged the importance of this, but are attempting to campaign on behalf of schools, to help address this issue/concern.

The National Special Educational Needs and Disability Forum is a regular meeting of the leading representatives of significant national organisations in this field. It is attended by the Department for Education. The National SEND Forum (NSENDF) is politically neutral, drawing together the providers, champions and commissioners of services for the most vulnerable in the maintained, non-maintained and independent sectors and across the 0-25 age range. The Forum is facilitated and convened by the Federation of Leaders in Special Education.

The letter below has been sent to the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP by ‘The National Special Educational Needs and Disability Form’.

 
 

National SEND Forum 
LPEC 
PO Box 17475 
Bromsgrove 
B60 9LR 

The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, 
Chancellor of the Exchequer 
HM Treasury 
1 Horse Guards Road 
London
SW1A 2HQ 

Dear Mr Hammond,

I am writing to you on behalf of the National Special Educational Needs and Disability Forum (NSENDF). We are an organisation bringing together leading representatives of significant national special educational needs and disability (SEND) organisations at both national and local level.

The National SEND Forum (NSENDF) is politically neutral, drawing together the providers, champions and commissioners of services for the most vulnerable across the 0-25 age range in the maintained, non-maintained and independent sectors.

We meet regularly to discuss the issues that are arising across the country within education, health and social care that impact on children and young people with SEND, their families and the professionals who support them.

At a recent meeting there was much discussion again about the funding crisis that is currently being experienced by all local authorities and healthcare trusts. This is having a significant impact on the education, health and well-being of the most vulnerable children and young people in our schools.

The SEND reforms that were introduced in September 2014 have been slowly implemented over the last four years; the promise being that education, health and social care would work in partnership to support the county’s most vulnerable children and young people aged 0-25. At exactly the same time we have seen an erosion of funding from all public sector departments trying to do more with less.

To put this expectation of doing more with less into perspective, there is little in public policy that reflects evidence of the government’s own departments taking account of the increasing numbers, identification, novelty, frequency, severity, complexity and longevity of special educational needs and disabilities in both the child and adult population.

We appreciate the constraints of public finance but without sufficient funding and a more coherent approach, the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEN Code of Practice 2015 are nothing more than empty promises from the government to parents and children.

There are a number of local authorities who are struggling to set a balanced budget for the next financial year and this is having an impact on the amount of funding that is going to be available to schools in the next twelve months. Many local authorities have deficits in their high needs budget and since there is no longer the opportunity to transfer significant sums of money into the high needs budget from other sources it is going to be very difficult for these to be balanced in the foreseeable future.

There are a number of factors that have led to this crisis, all of which need to be considered when allocating high needs funding to local authorities and subsequently schools.

  • In 2017 the number of pupils with special educational needs and disability (SEND) increased from 1,228,785 (2016) to 1.244,255 and then again in 2018 to 1,276,215. This is an increase of 47,430.
  • With the introduction of the SEND Code of Practice 2014 we saw the SEND system expand to all pupils aged 0-25. This meant an additional number of pupils identified with SEND between the ages of 0-5 and 19-25, however no additional funding was allocated to support this expanded number of pupils eligible for support.
  • The number of pupils with an EHCP and attending a special school has also risen over the last two years by 2% with a greater number having to access non-maintained and independent schools due to their complexity of need and lack of local provision.
  • Every local authority has seen a significant loss of specialist support and provision much of which is now traded and commissioned. This means schools are having to “buy-in” costly support at a time when their school budget is being drastically reduced.
  • The amount (£10,000 per place) that is provided for special schools has never been reviewed and is now insufficient to meet the needs of many complex pupils who require not only additional educational support but have significant medical and personal care needs as well.
  • The notional SEND budget introduced in 2013 is formulated through a calculation based on prior attainment, free school meals and deprivation. This has nothing to do with how many pupils a school may have to be supporting on SEN Support or with an EHCP and yet every school is expected to find up to the first £6000 of additional provision for every-one of their SEND children and young people. This is funding that comes from the school’s block and is not ring-fenced so can and is being used to fill the gap that schools are seeing in their budget allocation.

We cannot forget the number of young people experiencing significant mental health issues with no access to CAMHS and the rise in the number of SEND pupils who are excluded, off-rolled or home educated.

We know from many years of research and evidence that early identification and intervention is the key to support children and yet the number of children identified in early years is still very low. Many local authorities have not been able to fully introduce the two-year development check for all children as promised by the Children and Families Act 2014.

We have seen significant closures of resourced provision or specialist bases situated at mainstream schools – what happened to inclusion?

The recent NAHT report Empty Promises: The crisis in supporting children with SEND, very clearly sets out the challenges that schools are having in meeting the needs of pupils with SEND, often

having to provide services delivered by health professionals but paid for from an education budget. This is not right at a professional, moral or ethical level.

The funding crisis in schools is not only about cuts to education budgets but also the cost to the most vulnerable children and their families of cuts to a range of critical health and social care services as well.

We urge you to re-consider the funding that is being allocated to local authorities and health services to ensure that we do not let down our most vulnerable citizens of the future.

Yours Sincerely

David Bateson OBE

Chair of National SEND Forum


 


I have recently had a query sent to me by a colleague working in an all age special school who have just decided to move over to an Informal, Semi-Formal, Formal Curriculum model, and it struck me that the issues raised relating to the time devoted to Literacy and Numeracy and their relative importance, might be of interest to Equals’ members. The teacher’s questions are in italics followed by my suggestions.

My main concern is for the ASD pupils who have reading/math levels that are old L1. How do you suggest that we support those pupils in the lessons to ensure that they do not lose those skills? Do we teach them a formal curriculum for those subjects? I am concerned that if we don’t continue to teach them those core subjects using the formal curriculum, then they will lose those skills!
 
I’m afraid there is not a definitive answer, since the degree to which you run with a formal/semi-formal combination and how much of either you put into an individual’s timetable will very much depends on a number of factors; these being

    1. Age
    2. Current ability levels 
    3. Potential to get up towards level 4 (old money) 
    4. Interest of the individual learner

1. Age – I would be more inclined towards the formal curriculum model the younger the learner is and by extension, less inclined the older the learner is. Generally speaking, if the learner hasn’t got number by the time they’re 8 or 9 and certainly by the time they’re 11, they’re probably not going to get it to a level that will help.
 
Learners MUST have an abstract understanding of the relationship between every number and every other number if they’re going to have a chance of being numerate, otherwise it just tends to be learning by rote. Rote learning also of course, comes in to reading, and again, learners really need to understand that words themselves are merely abstract symbols representing ideas that are put together to form ever more complex thoughts. The ability to read, so often apparent in learners with ASD, does not signify understanding, otherwise I would be able to understand Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, which I can’t. I can read the words, but have no idea what they mean!
 
The thing about such rote abilities is that they open teachers up to dilemmas of difference – do I carry on teaching literacy and numeracy in the hope that the learner eventually gets it or do I follow a different model knowing that the learner can and will succeed at that? Unfortunately there is no right answer, but I’m not certain that you will be able to do justice to both because both will take up SO much time.

2. Current ability and levels and 3. Potential can be more or less taken together, because both numeracy and especially literacy only really start to make sense from a position of positively helping with ordering and living our lives – that is, helping us to make sense of the very complex world around us – when we get to around level 4 of the National Curriculum, a position achieved by most neuro-typical 10 year olds by the time they leave primary school. If children haven’t already or are not going to (in your and others’ professional opinion) get to those dizzy heights, there doesn’t seem to be much point in spending large amounts of time pursuing the ambition. You may however, spend small amounts of time doing it, and how large or small will be decided by how much this additional work impinges on their making progress within the semi-formal curriculum.
 
Of course the other very important issue that we mustn’t forget here is that simply because you’re not teaching formal Literacy and Numeracy does not mean that your learners are not improving their literacy and numeracy skills. Maths is everywhere and in every thing. All learners will learn HUGE amounts of maths by being able to successfully cross a road, make a pizza, kick a ball, take their feet off the bottom of the pool, traverse across the hall. One doesn’t have to learn formal maths to learn maths! Similarly, we tend to forget that literacy is merely a higher and more complex form of communication, because that’s what it is – communication. Stephen Hawking has not managed to communicate with me and obviously, the complexity of the language used means that he wasn’t trying to communicate with me in the first place. If he was, I have to tell him that he’s failed abysmally! Is that my fault – no! It’s his fault because to be effective and therefore meaningful, the communication MUST be understood by both parties. If it’s not, what’s the point?

4. The individual learner’s particular interest is I think also a key factor – do they like reading, counting, doing sums? Some do, and if they do, why not carry it on, though again how much time you spend on this depends on how this will impinge on their successes in other areas.
Finally, on losing skills, my view would tend to be that rote skills not practised tend to stay pretty solid over time and will come back once practice recommences. That’s what makes them rote skills. And anyway a little bit of practice will largely keep them intact.

In summation, there is unfortunately, no definitive answer – it is a dilemma and dilemmas tend not to have easy answers otherwise they wouldn’t be dilemmas! Trust your judgement as a professional of long standing and experience. Trust the judgements of others you trust – your Senior Leadership Team, your TAs, SaLTs, OTs, Physios. Make a collective judgment on where you think the learner will be academically in 5 years time if you just carried on with a formal curriculum. This may not be entirely accurate (what forecasts are?) but given experience and knowledge you are likely to be broadly correct, that is, within a P scale or two. Trust that collective judgement and make your decisions accordingly.

Peter Imray
3rd October 2018
 


The DfE is funding a ‘SEN/D Workforce Development [DSWD]:  Project-Whole School SEND’.

This is an important opportunity for you as a practitioner and schools in general to influence and inform how their needs in this area are to be met.

Thank you for taking the time to read this carefully. The focus of this invitation is for colleagues working in all phases of schooling in England only.

A survey has been created to give insight into the factors affecting your engagement with special needs and/or disability [SEN/D] related training and Continuing Professional Development [CPD] in school/ setting; how your school/ setting identifies, accesses, uses and follows up on training /CPD; who makes those decisions and the impact they have on the SENCO, Head teacher and teaching staff roles, workload and activity.

This survey takes no more than 20 minutes to complete. To complete the survey please follow this link:

https://uclioe.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2rCOMJbP24KHFkN

The organisation(s) sending you this invitation will not see your individual answers and will not be involved in processing or analysing the information / answers you give. This will be done by the research team at UCL IOE Centre for Inclusive Education.

You are not asked to identify yourself or your school/ setting in the questionnaire: your contribution will be entirely anonymous and participation is voluntary.

Your opinions and experiences are really important to us.

If you have any questions please email us at: wssen-d@ucl.ac.uk

Thank you very much for taking the time to complete the survey!

 


 

EQUALS has published a ‘Brand New’ Semi-Formal Curriculum, specifically designed and written for learners of all ages with SLD.

The aims of the Schemes of Work project have been

  • to build on the collaborative work of Penny Lacey and Swiss Cottage School;
  • to write outstanding practice schemes of work for non National Curriculum ‘areas of learning’;
  • to involve outstanding teachers in good and outstanding schools throughout England and Wales;
  • to produce schemes of work that are available to all schools on a cost recovery (not for profit) basis through the Equals website;
  • to share best practice within a broad band of stakeholders, including both the DfE and Ofsted.

The general principles governing the schemes of work are that they

  • are developmental in nature and open to personalisation – they start at the beginning of the individual pupil’s learning journey and aim for the highest level of independence possible;
  • cover all stages of education from 2 to 25 (and beyond) but are not directly related to either age or key stage. Learners fit into them where they will according to their individual abilities, interests and learning journey;
  • are not related to the National Curriculum, though the common language of the P scales is occasionally used for ease of understanding.

Below is a short video of just over 11 mins by Peter Imray; our Director of Developments. Peter Imray talks about our brand new Semi-Formal (SLD) Curriculum.

 

To place an order, you can Download an Order Form or Order in Web Shop

 All of the Semi-formal Curriculums are priced at £49.00 + VAT each for Members and £149.00 + VAT for non-members. 

My Citizenship and My Forest School will be available later this academic year.

 

EQUALS Members benefit from significant discounts on EQUALS publications.
The members price for the above publications is only £49 + VAT each.
This involves a saving of £100 + VAT each, compared to Non-members prices

If you would like to become a member of
EQUALS at £120 + VAT for 12 months please click here


To view a preview, please click on a link below

 


Hi all

I am forwarding on a message from Christopher Robertson (Birmingham University) which contains a link to a summary report of Monday 13th July’s Upper Tribunal judgement ruling relating to autism, behaviour and exclusion.

The judge took the view that the Equality Act does not offer sufficient protection against exclusion for children with autism, but I think we can also take this to cover CYP with SLD and PMLD since they can be equally discriminated against when it comes to the view that the behaviour which leads to the exclusion is ‘not a matter of choice’. I am not going to underestimate the significance of this ruling for all schools!!
 
https://www.irwinmitchell.com/newsandmedia/2018/august/aggressive-behaviour-is-not-a-choice-for-autistic-children-jq-671403

All the best

Peter