Our Policy & Research Executive Dan Baynes blogs about DYT’s campaign ahead of the upcoming election…
On Thursday 8th June, millions of us will go out to churches, schools and community centres across the country to exercise our democratic right to choose our next government.
This decision matters; it will lead to people making decisions every day that affect our ability to shape and transform educational outcomes for SEND learners.
The last 5 years has seen dramatic reform in the education system – good, bad, and ugly.
No matter what government we wake up to on the 9th June there promises to be even further change.
What is clear is that there is a very real chance that inclusion is in full retreat. The 11 plus is back on our doorstep and the mantra of selection is on the lips of the government – SEND learners were not mentioned in the government’s plans and only 3.6% of them are in grammar schools at the moment.
Funding will also strike at the heart of ensuring we have the best teaching possible for SEND. It is predicted that the national funding formula will see on average 6 teachers lost per secondary school. With pressures on school funding at their worst since 1990, SEND learners are at greater risk from exclusion from the mainstream educational setting.
With Brexit dominating political debate, a recent poll found just 1% of the UK population sees education as the biggest policy issue. With attention focused elsewhere SEND could easily disappear off the agenda, airbrushed as an afterthought and just something for the teaching assistant (TA) or special schools to deal with.
We argued in our Through the Looking Glass report that the lack of specialist focus on SEND pupils in the policy debate has contributed to educational outcomes falling dramatically behind their contemporaries.
Unfortunately, this is supported by a quick look at the main party manifestos, which reveals that SEND is not a priority. The Lib Dems pledge to “ensure that identification and support for SEND takes place as early as possible,” while Labour would “embed SEND more substantially into training for teachers and non-teaching staff.”
More concerning is the fact that SEND did not appear once in the Conservative manifesto in an educational context, highlighting the very issue that SEND learners have not been considered at the heart of education policy making.
This is why making sure SEND and dyslexia has a voice in this election campaign will be critical in the coming weeks ahead. Our election pledges which we launched last week offer the chance for candidates to see and hear about SEND issues and ensure that these 1.2 million children are no longer ignored by our policy makers.
That’s why we are calling on you to let your future MP know about SEND. Write, email, tweet, text, ask…
Ask them to sign DYT’s five pledges to put SEND at the heart of the next government.