The government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) is due for publication in the autumn. Given the current economic uncertainty, the government will want to prioritise a recovery, but they have also indicated that levelling up economic opportunity is on the cards – fingers crossed this means something positive for education.
There are a number of significant challenges facing the education system at this time, not least the enormous capital expenditure needed for the schools’ estate, but also the role of the wider public sector is critical.
Local authorities, health and social care and even national training providers all look to benefit or lose out. But this is largely dependent on existing DfE plans; the SEND Review, disability strategy (a manifesto commitment, who knew?!) and the review of the code of practice will be key to developments in our sector. However, given the fragile state of Local Authority finances and their performance based on Ofsted/CQC inspections, their ability to actually deliver and improve outcomes for young people remains unclear.
If the DfE does want to make a real difference for young people with SEND, in particular those with literacy difficulties, they should consider:
- Building on the Initial Teacher Training and Early Career Frameworks for teacher training by publishing a national career pathway for teachers who wish to explore a career in specialist settings or progress as a specialist professional
- Developing specialist NPQs to provide existing and aspiring leaders the opportunity to build expertise. If that’s not possible, develop content on the strategic leadership of SEND in all NPQH courses to ensure every school leader understands their responsibilities, knows how to effectively deploy specialist professionals beyond an individual pupil, and can make the best use of teaching assistants
- Giving system-leader MATs the flexibility to provide and develop internal provision to overcome the lack of local authority capacity or capability within their localities – establish a specific fund to do this, such as creating an educational pyschology service.
There are real opportunities for School and Trust leaders to transform provision in their settings, if they have the foresight and entrepreneurial spirit to seize them. This is much harder for a lone Headteacher to achieve but MATs are well placed to provide a ‘second-tier’ of support which could reduce the reliance on struggling local authorities.
That said, the system still needs teachers with sufficient expertise to carry this off. The apparent success of early trials of the Early Career Framework, should be built upon giving teachers with the interest and aptitude to develop into recognised specialisms.
Chief Executive, Driver Youth Trust