Our readers are passionate about a wide range of issues. Here we will provide you with opportunities to support initiatives which are of importance to you.

Petition Watch comprises a list of petitions relating to SEN which are currently active on the UK Parliament website with more than 100 signatures at the time of compilation.

To add your name to any of these, go to the relevant page on the UK Parliament website (petition.parliament.uk). The petitions are not just symbolic. Any which reach 10,000 names will receive a response from HM Government. At 100,000 names, there is a chance that it will receive a debate in Parliament.

We will continue to monitor and update this list in future issues, and of course report in more detail on any which meet either threshold.

Increase funding for Tourette Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome affect 1 in 100 children, yet the support provided is minimal and very patchy across the UK, some areas have NO support.

There’s only a handful of specialist Tourette centres in the whole of the UK – we need more of these to provide care for EVERYONE! More research leads to more help!

Government Response:

The majority of services for people with Tourette’s syndrome are commissioned locally by Clinical Commissioning Groups. These services will be appropriate for the majority of children and young people with Tourette’s syndrome, and the teams involved will refer them to multidisciplinary teams including clinical psychologists where necessary.

To increase the number of trained clinical psychologists available, Health Education England has supported a 60 per cent expansion in the clinical psychology training intake over the past two years. Trainees are able to undertake specialist placements focusing on Tourette’s syndrome, in addition to Tourette’s syndrome featuring as part of the broader neuropsychology curriculum.

For those who require more detailed specialist support, there are a small number of recognised services
with focused multidisciplinary teams assessing and supporting children with tics, Tourette’s syndrome and motor stereotypies and their families.

The Department of Health and Social Care funds research into conditions through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition. Since 2018, £2.1 million has been invested into research
on Tourette’s syndrome through NIHR’s research programmes.

Department of Health and Social Care

Increase funding for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Provide more funding to CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services). Additional funding should be used for better training and more staff, as well as more sites to make it more accessible.

Prioritise special school staff in Covid 19 vaccinations

The unique requirements of working with children with additional needs means that social distancing and effective use of PPE is virtually impossible. Vaccinating special school staff will also offer protection to the children and their families.

Government Response

“We are working hard to ensure everyone who has been clinically prioritised to receive a vaccine will have access to a vaccine as soon as possible”.

Require all school staff receive training on SEN children

All school staff should be required to take a course on children with special educational needs (SEN). Too many school staff don’t have any idea how to engage with SEN children!

Government Response

Appropriate School Provisions
Reforms to teacher training

The Teachers’ Standards define the minimum expectations of teachers’ professional practice and personal conduct. These standards set clear expectations that teachers must have an understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with SEND.

To support all teachers, we are implementing a ‘golden thread’ of high-quality teacher training reforms. These reforms are designed to emphasise the importance of high-quality teaching and to ensure teachers have the skills to support all pupils to succeed. This includes those pupils identified within the four areas of need set out in the SEND Code of Practice and children in need of help and protection as identified in the Children in Need Review.

Further support for the workforce

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) play an essential role in schools, supporting teaching staff to meet the needs of pupils with SEN and ensuring that schools have a clear and effective approach to inclusive education. Every maintained nursery, maintained mainstream school and mainstream academy must have a qualified teacher designated as SENCO.

The Department has provided funding to the Whole School SEND consortium since 2018. Funding in 2021- 22 will bring the total funding for this contract to over £8 million since 2018. We have also funded the Autism Education Trust (AET) since 2011 to deliver autism awareness training to education staff in early years, schools and further education settings.

Department for Education

Make CCTV on school buses carrying children with disabilities mandatory

There have been reported incidents on school buses transporting children with disabilities. Children have come home with unexplained marks on their body.

Fund more school places for students with special needs

It should not be a fight to get children into a suitable special needs school, there should be enough places available.

Ban Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) for autistic people

Ban Applied Behavioural Analysis (sometimes referred to as “conversion therapy”) for autistic people. 

Require School SENCOs to be fully qualified for the role

School senco’s to be qualified before they take the role and they must have done in depth training on special educational needs. The current role can be filled by a person not qualified for the role and they have 3 years to qualify.

Fund more school places for students with special needs

It should not be a fight to get children into a suitable special needs school, there should be enough places available.

Introduce a statutory Mental Health Policy to schools in England

Introduce a specific policy for schools which follows the Mental Health Act 2017.
It should promote inclusion and reasonable adjustments, to ensure pupils with significant mental health needs can access education regardless of their limitations.

Fund improved support for people with communication and swallowing needs

We want the Government to improve the lives of people of all ages with communication and swallowing needs by ensuring they are able to access the speech and language therapy that they and their families and carers need.

Government Response

We welcome the recent report “Speech and language therapy during and beyond COVID-19” by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and its recommendations.

We are undertaking the biggest nursing, midwifery, and Allied Health Professional recruitment drive in decades, which includes recruitment of speech and language therapists. In 2020 there were 620 acceptances to speech and language therapy programmes in England, an increase of 28% on 2019.

On 23 November 2020 we published a Wellbeing and Mental Health Support Plan for COVID-19, setting out the steps we have taken to strengthen the support available for people who are struggling, including those with communication and swallowing needs.

With respect to speech and language therapies specifically for children and young people, last summer NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I) published guidance making clear that essential services provided in the community, including therapies, should be restarted for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) aged up to 25 years who have an Education Health and Care Plan in place or who are going through an assessment for one.

Department of Health and Social Care

Make British Sign Language a language option in the national curriculum

Make British Sign Language an option for students to study at school. 

More funding for local authorities to assess and support Autistic Children

What is needed are social workers specialised in Children with disabilities and not safeguarding social workers. Two different assessments and this needs to be recognised.

Create an emergency fund for ASD (autism) & ADHD assessments

The Government should create an emergency fund to deal with waiting lists for autism & ADHD assessments for children AND adults. 

More funding for SEN children to access appropriate school provisions

Make more funding available for schools and local authorities to offer better provisions for SEN children, especially those who do not fit the criteria for special needs EMS/mainstream schools. 

Make it law for EHCP assessments to be automatically available

A child diagnosed with a condition that may affect their learning ability or any child that has been recognised but still undiagnosed, by school or professionals as needing extra help is automatically entitled to be assessed with their parents/guardians consent.

Fund improved neurodiversity diagnosis, identification and support

Few schools have specialist provision for neurodivergent students in public education. Diagnosis for the different types of neurodivergence is not an option for those who cannot afford to pay privately.

Require schools to educate students about special educational needs & mental health disorders

All schools, primary and secondary, have to educate students about different types of special needs; including autism, Asperger’s, ADHS and Down’s syndrome, and also mental health disorders.

Replace “Special Educational Needs” within the Children & Families Act

The use of “Special Educational Needs” in the Children & Families Act (2014) and Code of Practice (2015) is outdated. It does not accurately describe the provision that many children need. It should be replaced with the term “additional needs”.

Government funding required for an autism training support scheme

To create a scheme for autistic adults and adults with learning difficulties, to break the stigma around adults with learning difficulties, such as autism. As 80% of us are facing poverty and unemployment, as the education system struggle to support those with learning and educational needs.

Updated 4 September 2021

SEN Magazine
Author: SEN Magazine

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