Possible breakthrough for disabled children
The English government today outlined its proposals to reform the system of Special Education. Many of these proposals seem very welcome, in particular:
1. Giving families control of the budget for health, education and social care
2. Enabling disabled children to take any additional support into all schools, including Academies and Free Schools - making inclusion more likely
3. Creating a framework which goes up to age 25 and may help reduce the enormous problems children face at the point of transition into 'adult services'
You can read more about the proposals at the Department of Education website.
The Centre for Welfare Reform has been advocating these kinds of changes since it was set up in 2009 and many of our publications outline how these changes can be achieved.
Pippa Murray, one of the Fellows of the Centre has been a leading advocate of these changes and wrote a detailed submission to the government on this topic. If you want to read more about why families will benefit from more control, personalisation and integration her work is invaluable. You can see many further resources in the right hand side menu.
Pippa Murray said:
"It is time for a radical new approach to special education. For too long children and families have had their ambitions limited by a system that rarely supports active citizenship. For too long all our children have been separated from each and and kept ignorant of the great gifts that disabled children bring to the world."
Of course there are also concerns. Simon Duffy, Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform said:
"This could be a real step forward in an area that has been crying out for some radical reform. However, as we know from the development of individual budgets in social care, good ideas can quickly come unstuck - bogged down in bureaucracy and in-fighting within the system. It will be important that the government supports disabled children and families with a system of real and enforceable rights.
There will also be considerable fear, in the current climate, that these changes will mask further cuts that disproportionately harm disabled children and families. A rhetoric of 'increased targeting' is always worrying, for it often means (a) reduced eligibility for many, and (b) reduced funding for the smaller numbers who remain eligible. The government's current spending plans already concentrate 25% of ALL cuts onto the 2% of the population with the most significant disabilities. It is to be hoped that these new policies - potentially so positive - do not hide further injustice."