This was written at the time of the Royal Wedding and as Harry and Meghan make their vows, especially the “For Poorer” one it made me think.
I generally love my job, the challenges, the children, the adults, even completing all the paperwork but recently there have become some aspects of it that make me really unhappy. It isn’t children with challenging behaviour, it isn’t all of the pages of data that I produce and then have to draw conclusions from, it isn’t having to have difficult conversations with people who I line manage, it is that due to lack of money we can’t provide the children with the highest needs the support that they need and deserve.
The number of children with very high levels of special educational needs is growing, rapidly. Currently, the percentage of children (0-25) in Britain who are recorded as having SEN is about 13% – our school is significantly higher. The percentage whose needs are such that they need assessment leading to an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) – the old “Statement” – is less than 2%, in our school, we have more than twice this percentage. These children’s needs are due to a wide variety of reasons, some may be blind or deaf, some may have cerebral palsy, some will have an autistic spectrum condition, some may have medical conditions, some may have learning difficulties due to no obvious or diagnosable cause. As I am sure most people will be aware, the amount of money that schools receive is effectively falling – just at the time they most need it to increase.
When I talk to people who do not work in education they often say, “Well send them to special schools.” For many of our “special children” specialist provision would be perfect – there is just one minor difficulty – they are full. They are also very expensive; they have smaller class sizes, they have more adults per child, they often have specialists such as speech therapists or physiotherapists on site, they have more resources – they provide what the children need.
If a child is granted an EHCP then the support that the document says that the child needs must be provided; it is a statutory document. If that document says that to remain safe and learn to the best of their ability they need 1:1 support at all times then this must be provided. Schools have always had some money in their budgets to support children with SEN; it has normally been expected that the first £6,000 of support will be provided by schools. This has now changed, it may not be in all areas of the country but certainly, in some, schools are suddenly now expected to provide the first £10,000 of support – this is a big jump.
It becomes a bit of a vicious circle – there are more children with SEN who need support, the minimum working/ living wage has increased, the money schools have to spend is decreasing, the “top up” funds from local authorities is also decreasing, the support that has to be provided is increasingly expensive, other children who don’t have EHCPs get less targeted support as there isn’t the money to provide it, so they end up further behind and require more support…..
As has been said before, “Money can’t buy you happiness” but not having enough can certainly make life tricky and we are all having to think creatively to make the money that we do have work even more effectively. We will all continue to do our best for these children – For richer and for poorer.
This article was originally posted at: https://sencosheep.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/for-better-for-worse-for-richer-for-poorer/