Good news everyone! Christmas has come early… if you’re a policy geek like me. Yes, today is the day that (nearly) all of the big long-awaited changes to the special educational needs system in England come into force.
After years and months of debating the policy and the draft laws, the focus now shifts to implementation. Regardless of what we think about the changes, we want to make sure that deaf children benefit from them or at least aren’t disadvantaged by them.
With that in mind, we at the National Deaf Children’s Society have worked with our friends and allies at Blind Children UK, RNIB and Sense to produce a campaign briefing setting out five key issues where we think action is needed to make sure SEN reform implementation works for the children we work with. For each day this week, I’ll be blogging about each of those five issues (see, I said Christmas had come early).
The first key issue is: data. We need better data on deaf children, how many there are, where they live, what their needs are and how well they’re doing. Government cannot hope to meet the special educational needs of deaf children if it doesn’t know how many there are – yet that’s the situation we’re in now. Existing data-sets are incomplete, even by the Government’s own admission. According to the Department for Education, there are just 17,000 deaf children across England. Local authorities tell us the figure is actually more like 38,000 – but, in many areas we know that’s still not the full story. For example, many local authorities tell us that they don’t collect data on deaf young people over the age of 16 who are in education or training.
We want local authorities to get better at collecting data on deaf children so that they can use it to make proper decisions on what services are needed. We also want better data so that we can see how well local authorities are doing in supporting deaf children to achieve their potential. And we want the Government to make sure that this all happens.
If you agree, help us improve things. We’re launching a new campaign action today to ask local authorities to take action on each of the five key issues we’ve identified.
Check out our blog tomorrow for more information on our 2nd key issue on effective participation. In the meantime, you can get loads more information about SEN reform and what the changes might mean for deaf children on the NDCS website at www.ndcs.org.uk/sen.