The announcement of funding for SEND by Minister Zahawi is undoubtedly welcome for the charities who will most benefit from this £25m. The majority of this funding is destined to be used to provide advice to parents and young people with SEND.
Whole School SEND, of which DYT is a founding member, will also benefit to continue to build a cross-sector coalition of charities, schools, parents and young people. This is an exciting and innovative project which is bringing practitioners, policymakers and families together to best identify solutions to the main barriers in the system.
However, it needs to be noted that the vast majority of this fund is being targeted at supporting parents to better advocate for their children. On the surface, this would appear to be no bad thing and indeed parents need more support to navigate the practices and often complex policies put in place by schools and local authorities.
But, is it possible that the Minister’s announcement will unwittingly build a strong and vocal group of advocates, who will most likely direct their dissatisfaction at him sooner or later?
There are many signs that SEND and inclusion is facing significant challenges both at policy and school level and with it dissatisfaction by parents and young people themselves.
Coming in the same week as we marked 40 years since the Warnock report was published, you have to wonder why it is that seven times more funding is going into advice for parents rather than into schools – where is it desperately needed because of cuts in other areas.
This new money will not grow capacity in schools and nor will it improve outcomes for young people in the short to medium term. What is really needed is a coherent vision for how we enable all the stakeholders in the system to cooperate. Changing the lives of young people with SEND, given where we are at the moment, is going to take more than a whole load of pamphlets. Parents do not want to know how to better fight the system, they just want a system that works for their children.
The new measures include: