Today I published proposals for improving services for disabled children and those with special educational needs.
This doesn’t affect everyone, but if you are a family with a severely disabled child struggling to give 24-hour care, or the parent of a child falling behind at school who doesn’t know where to turn for help, then I hope it will make a significant difference.
As Liberal Democrats in government, we started by listening to parents, families and young people. We had 1800 responses to our “Call for Views”, and each person will be getting an email letting them know we’ve now published our Green Paper, and how to contribute to the consultation.
So our proposals don’t start from an ideology about the way services should be delivered, but focus on tackling the real problems that we’ve found. Our proposals will mean education, health and social care services working more closely together – a single assessment rather than a myriad of forms. They will mean more mediation so families don’t have to have recourse to the SEN Tribunal – solving problems together rather than funding lawyers. They will mean a greater role for the voluntary and community sector in giving support to parents navigating the complexity of the system, and more investment in special needs teaching.
Building on recommendations from Liberal Democrat policy papers, we’ll be ensuring all children can have a progress check between 2 and 2½ years to spot problems earlier and we’ll be giving parents more control through a legal right to a personal budget for their care, with a plan to legislate so this can be in place by 2014.
Finally, we’ll be changing the way that schools classify SEN to give more emphasis on giving every child the support they need to succeed – looking at achievement not labels, and reinforcing the strong strategic role of local authorities in securing the right provision locally.
I hope that members and supporters recognise Liberal Democrat values in what we’ve done so far. I’d be really grateful for your views on our proposals, either via the DfE consultation email@example.com, or via the comments thread below.
In particular, I’d like your views on the following two questions:
- If you are a teacher, school governor or local councillor, how do you think we can support schools in spreading the good practice in teaching and supporting children? What really works in your area?
- If you are a parent with a child with special needs, or know someone who is, how do you react to the idea of a personal budget, and what support do you think would be needed to make the most of it?
I’ll be looking at your replies and come back soon with a further posting. I look forward to hearing from you.
Sarah Teather MP is Minister of State for Children and Families.