The evidence has now been published and can be shared with members through the Parliamentary website here.
In April 2018, the education committee began its inquiry on the government’s wide-ranging SEND reforms, which had the intention of offering simpler, better and consistent help for children and young people with SEND.
The committee’s inquiry asked for evidence to help assess the success of the changes, their implementation and, ultimately, their impact on the children and young people that the reforms were aimed at.
Diana and Niki both sit on Prospect's Education and Children’s Services (ECS) Group executive committee, and lead on much of the work that the union does on SEND issues.
Diana also represents Prospect on the Special Educational Consortium, a group which was highly influential in the passage of the 2014 SEND reforms, and continues to have an on-going dialogue with Department for Education.
Of the 2014 legislation, Diana comments:
“It was implemented with the best of intentions but as with other big system changes there are many moving parts. A combination of increased accountability for schools, curriculum and assessment changes which do not recognise the needs of some pupils and tightening austerity, have all made the implementation more difficult to achieve.”
Providing evidence to parliamentary committees underlines the strength of specialist expertise within Prospect’s ECS sector and also the quality of its lobbying work on important issues.
But how does one start with such a task?
“We scoped out the range of issues that needed to be raised in answer to the questions about which they were asking for evidence. It took a number of hours and a room with many big whiteboards to map it all out and then when we had a draft, we shared it with other members of the GEC for their input,” says Diana.
Prospect’s evidence to the education committee is quite detailed and offers several recommendations, but what are the main messages that they wish to be heard?
“Schools need support and advice to join the dots of all the different bits of legislation and how things that fit together,” says Niki.
“Diana and I have worked for years in local authorities and people in our sort of roles don’t exist anymore so schools have no-one to refer to."
Niki added: “We need to come to a conclusion about the fundamental offer that every school should be making for children with different special educational needs, so that people know where they stand.”
Diana concluded: “We must find a way to make it worthwhile for schools to include pupils with SEN, rather than punishing them for the effect it has on their results.”
- Read Prospect’s evidence to the Education select committee on the Parliamentary website here.