News broke last week that the Department for Education would be stopping its annual grant of £650,000 to The Communication Trust (TCT). The coalition of over 50 organisations supports children and young people in England to support their speech, language and communication will see a 95% reduction in its funding following the decision which their director has warned will have significant consequences.
The decision is in contrast to the recent announcement last week by Damian Hinds who confirmed that the first priority of his department was to: “close the word gap” by “boosting access to high-quality early language and literacy.” A department spokesman praised the “excellent work” TCT has done and confirmed that SLCN remained a key priority, however, the decision leaves a grey area as to how support for pupils with communication and language needs will be delivered, as raised by Tracy Brabin MP, Shadow Minister for Education, in the Commons last week. A campaign led by NAPLIC has been started to urge a reversal in the decision (find out how to get involved below).
Elsewhere, the DfE has faced further criticism from the SEND community after it was revealed that an IT error left the online SENCo forum offline for over two months. Schools Week’s front page raised the issue saying that SENCos had been left “voiceless” by the glitch, the forum has been going for over twenty years and has 2,500 members.
— Schools Week (@SchoolsWeek) February 1, 2018
Petition to reverse the decision to cut TCT’s funding
NAPLIC have started a petition calling on the government to fund fairly support for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs. They point out that:
The petition has already received over 8,000 signatures – add yours here.
On this week: Children’s Mental Health Week Starts on Monday, with organisations, such as Place 2 B, encouraging children and adults to embrace #BeingOurselves
SEND education ‘too dependent on teaching assistants’, researchers say
Researchers from the UCL Institute of Education said that, despite attempts to ensure pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) receive more high-quality teaching, a significant proportion of their teaching is still delivered by TAs.
The article, published in tes last week showed that ‘pupils with EHCPs spent 15 per cent of lesson time interacting with TAs, compared to only 1 per cent for other pupils’.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism launched a new report in the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday. The new Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP came and spoke at the event.
The National Autistic Society and Ambitious about Autism launched a campaign called Held Back. They are asking the Government to give a commitment that no child will be held back from meeting their potential because they’re autistic.
The PAC published a report that concluded that there was no overall plan and the government needs to act first to tackle the crisis.
The government’s latest plan to improve QTS and early career training for teachers is welcomed, but the recruitment and retention crisis is likely to continue to be a key demand on the government as school budgets remain under pressure.
A recent meeting of the APPG for Speech and Language Difficulties saw preliminary findings from the Bercow 10 years on, study.
The report published in Spring 2018 was discussed by key leaders in the SLCN sector, including:
The full report will be launched in March, read DYT’s contribution:Driver Youth Trust Response to Bercow 10 Years On Inquiry (1).pdf
There have been a number of questions raised by MPs this week on SEND, including on the number of specialist teachers for deaf children. A full round-up is available is available form theyworkforyou.com
Adjournment debate on improving educational outcomes for children with autism
Maria Caulfield leads the debate which is likely to include the report (see above) which she co-wrote.
House of Commons chamber, TBC
Westminster Hall debates:
The importance of statutory personal, health and sexual education – Teresa Pearce
Future eligibility for free school meals and the pupil premium – Mrs Sharon Hodgson
4.30 pm – 5.30 pm
Select committee hearing:
Matthew Dodd from SEC is among those on the panel. The Education Committee received 85 evidence submissions for its inquiry. These are published on the Committee’s inquiry publications page, including that by DYT.
Room 15, Palace of Westminster
Introduction of an Agriculture GCSE – Julian Sturdy
11.00 am – 11.30 am
The Committees will question Ministers from the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care on elements of scope, collaboration, accountability, and implementation plans for the green paper. Among those on the panel are Nick Gibb MP, Minister for School Standards and Ann Gross, Director of SEND at the Department for Education.
Room 16, Palace of Westminster
Timpson takes up children’s commissioner advisory role – Children and Young People Now
Former Department for Education minister Edward Timpson has been appointed to advise the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield as reported by Children and Young People Now.
Creative subjects being squeezed, schools tell BBC
Creative arts subjects are being cut back in many secondary schools in England, a BBC survey suggests.
Disadvantaged teens in North of England score one GCSE grade lower than Southern pupils – i
Finally, the i reports on data which appears to show lower than average GCSE scores across eight subjects in 2016/17 for teenagers across the North. Those living in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, was 45.1, compared to a national average of 46.1 and an average of 48.6 in London.