Memorandum submitted by NASEN
1.1 NASEN is the UK's leading organisation
for the education, training, development and support of all those
working within the field of special educational needs.
1.2 NASEN has 8000 members throughout the
UK and communicates and consults them through its 50 branches,
regular newsletters, its website and its specific committees and
voluntary officers. NASEN's membership is drawn from all aspects
of education including mainstream and special schools, colleges
and universities, support services, local education authorities
and parents. NASEN represents the voice of its members in a number
of national and local forums.
1.3 NASEN reaches a wide national and international
readership through its journals: British Journal of Special Education,
Support for Learning, its on-line publication Journal of Research
in Special Educational Needs and the magazine Special!
1.4 NASEN runs a professional development
programme throughout the year including courses and seminars and
workshops at many of the education and special needs exhibitions
around the country.
1.5 NASEN welcomes this opportunity to submit
evidence to the Select Committee, which as you can see, will reflect
a diversity of opinion and experience.
1.6 NASEN would also welcome the opportunity
to supplement written evidence with oral evidence.
FOR SEN PUPILS
2.1 NASEN has a wide range of examples that
would indicate that mainstream schools have been supporting those
individuals with special educational needs for many years and
have provided quality educational opportunities with commitment,
confidence and skill for all their pupils. There is a great deal
of good practice within this area and NASEN believes this should
be championed and used to provide others with the training necessary
to deliver this level of inclusive practice.
2.2 Where schools have built up strong support
mechanisms between staff, parents, community and outside agencies,
have a supportive ethos, deliver regular and relevant training
and have resources that are accessible to deliver a differentiated,
broad and balanced curriculum relevant to the needs of children
and young people, pupils with a wide range of special educational
needs can be successfully taught alongside their peers within
mainstream classrooms. Where this is not the case, some children
and teachers may struggle to achieve the outcomes despite their
2.3 Every child is entitled to good teaching
and every teacher needs to acknowledge that they are a teacher
of children with special educational needs. NASEN commends the
work of Teaching Assistants in supporting these individuals and
where they are working closely with the SENCO or Class Teacher
they can provide an excellent standard of education. However,
NASEN has a growing concern regarding the use of unqualified staff
to look after some of these vulnerable children who need well
trained and suitably qualified individuals to help meet their
2.4 Leaders in mainstream schools should
acknowledge this by ensuring that the funding they receive for
SEN is directed to those children for whom it is meant. Clear,
transparent and accountable budget information available for staff,
governors, local authorities and parents will ensure that funding
is used effectively to meet the needs of those individuals.
2.5 The SEN Code of Practice 2001 stated
that all schools should have a person responsible for co-ordinating
SEN provision (SENCO). NASEN believes that this should be a qualified
teacher who is a senior member of staff. It also advocates that
time to carry out this role should be guaranteed to ensure that
the SEN provision of the school is monitored effectively.
2.6 NASEN welcomed the introduction of the
Statutory Inclusion Statement in Curriculum 2000Inclusion:
providing effective learning opportunities for all pupils:
"Schools have a responsibility to provide
a broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils. The National Curriculum
is the starting point for planning a school curriculum that meets
the specific needs of individuals and groups of pupils.
This statutory inclusion statement on providing
effective learning opportunities for all pupils outlines how teachers
can modify, as necessary, the National Curriculum programmes of
study to provide all pupils with relevant and appropriately challenging
work at each key stage. It sets out three principles that are
essential to developing a more inclusive curriculum:
(a) Setting suitable learning challenges.
(b) Responding to pupils' diverse learning
(c) Overcoming potential barriers to
learning and assessment for individuals and groups of pupils."
NASEN does have concerns as to how much emphasis
is placed on this in some mainstream schools and believes that
it should form a central arm of all school improvement planning.
NASEN would welcome more effective training
and support for all teachers (especially during their Initial
It also welcomes the initiatives that have developed
from the Literacy, Numeracy, Primary and Secondary strategies
that support many of those pupils who need additional support
especially in English and Maths. However, there is still concern
regarding those pupils who are unable to access these programmes
as their needs are significant and profound.
2.7 NASEN also acknowledges that there are
some poor examples of classroom practice. Teachers with low expectations,
inadequate support, poor resources and equipment will result in
poor teaching and underachievement. In schools where pupils with
special educational needs are not valued, possibly from inconsistency
of funding, ineffective or inconsistent school targets and poor
facilities, the needs of these pupils are not met.
2.8 NASEN welcomed the Ofsted ReportSpecial
Educational Needs and DisabilityTowards Inclusive SchoolsOctober
2004 where its main findings acknowledged that there was still
a considerable challenge for mainstream schools to be inclusive:
"A minority of mainstream schools meet special
needs very well, and others are becoming better at doing so. High
expectations, effective whole school planning seen through committed
managers, close attention on the part of skilled teachers and
support staff, and rigorous evaluation remains the keys to effective
practice. . .".
2.9 NASEN's members feel that there has
been a significant cultural change in schools recognising that
Inclusion is no longer an option but a requirement. The challenge
for schools is to be able to put into practice effective supportive
programmes that support quality inclusion.
2.10 NASEN is concerned about the erosion
of some central support services due to delegation of funding
to schools and it is very worried about the effect this erosion
may have over time. The conflict between the LEA Area Reviews
and desirability to delegate all funding to schools and the need
for some services to be provided centrally is a cause for concern
for many of our members working in them. If schools are to provide
this very specialised support from in school then very effective
CPD has to be available to meet all the diverse needs that they
may encounter. Tensions between the differing demands of provider
agencies need to be addressed.
FOR SEN PUPILS
3.1 NASEN believes that maintained and non-
maintained special schools have a very important part to play
in the education of young people with special educational needs.
For some individuals, the very specialist support and care that
special schools can provide, is fundamental to their educational
achievement and well being. The opportunity to work in smaller
groups, with higher staffing levels, with specialist equipment
and resources impacts positively on that individuals educational
3.2 The majority of special schools have
a wealth of expertise and experience in teaching children with
complex special needs. Where local clusters of school have been
proactive in working together, the outreach that many of these
schools staff can provide in supporting those individuals in mainstream
schools has been well regarded. It needs to be acknowledged that
where this is effective and successful there have been flexible
funding mechanisms in place to ensure that all schools involved
have adequate resources to enable it to happen. NASEN believes
that there should be national guidance to LEAs on special school
funding to support collaborative working.
3.3 NASEN acknowledges that not all special
schools are providing a high level of education and care. There
would appear to be some lack of breadth of expertise and rigor
within small local authorities to challenge their special schools.
3.4 NASEN has concerns regarding the transport
arrangements for many out of area pupils and how this might impact
on the Extended School agenda currently being championed throughout
the country through the Every Child Matters agenda. Many of these
pupils would benefit from extended school provision provided by
their local community. NASEN is not convinced that this will be
available for many of these pupils without transport needs and
costs being safeguarded.
3.5 It would appear that every local authority
has a slightly different view of how they interpret "quality
inclusion"NASEN believes that this would be an ideal
time to carry out some research on the relative benefits of the
many systems that are being used throughout the country. (NASEN
Policy on InclusionAppendix 1)
3.6 Special consideration needs to be made
regarding the current provision for EBSD pupils. This has become
a very challenging area with some schools encountering difficulties
under the current inspection regime. It is also important to ensure
that these challenging young people receive the good quality education
that they are entitled to. Flexibility within the curriculum would
be a key to this success.
3.7 NASEN has examples of excellent practice
regarding dual placements, where a child is based in one school
(mainstream) but spends part of the week being educated in another
school (special). Where staff, parents and external agencies support,
plan and regularly evaluate this process the child can benefit
considerably. As in 3.2 it needs to be acknowledged that where
this is effective and successful there has been flexible funding
mechanisms in place to ensure that all schools involved have adequate
resources to enable it to happen.
3.8 The use of further education facilities
for post 14 youngsters enables many to access aspects of the curriculum
which are not available to them within their school but the quality
of this provision is often poor with little evaluation taking
4. RAISING STANDARDS
FOR SEN PUPILS
4.1 NASEN believes that all pupils are entitled
to a high quality education which would include the opportunity
to develop and progress over a given period of time. This means
that all staff should have the highest expectation of all pupils
and provide an education that is differentiated to meet their
needs. There needs to be a concerted push (national initiative
or programme) to educate school staff in understanding the level
of expectation they should have for pupils with special educational
needs supported by national data.
4.2 There is increasing pressure on schools
to raise standards and many are finding it increasingly difficult
to match some pupils levels with the targets for their school.
This does lead to pupils being "refused a place" within
a mainstream setting. NASEN is aware that many parents have appealed
against such decisions.
4.3 NASEN is concerned that for many learners
with special educational needs the current curriculum at Key Stage
3 & 4 is inappropriate both for their needs and for their
future in the modern world. NASEN welcomed the debate on the development
of secondary education and outlines its views in its Position
Paper: "The Future of Secondary Education" (Appendix
2). It is vitally important that when planning SEN provision it
is seen as an integral to the whole process and not an afterthought
or a "bolt on" to any national educational developments.
4.4 NASEN has recently been involved in
a project with QCA regarding the use of the P Scales within schools.
These are widely used in special schools as an assessment tool
but with less impact in mainstream schools. NASEN was disappointed
that the statutory reporting of these levels was not introduced
4.5 There needs to be a review of the current
assessment arrangements especially when assessing the progress
of pupils with special educational needs. Both mainstream and
special schools need to be accountable for pupils who do not meet
national thresholds but recognition must be made that they may
not make the same progress in the given period of time. There
needs to be an acknowledgement of realistic expectations with
less emphasis on "moving up levels". Greater use of
value added data would help schools that provide effectively for
all pupils. A greater use of assessment for learning and less
on summative assessment will aid this process.
4.6 NASEN recognises the DfES' commitment
in their intervention packages that have been produced to support
the National Strategies. These have ensured that for many pupils
alternative activities have been readily available to support
them especially in Literacy and Numeracy. However, there are still
many individuals who are not accessing the curriculum at a level
that is appropriate for their needs.
5. THE SYSTEM
FOR SEN PUPILS
5.1 NASEN would welcome a review of the
current statementing process that appears to differ considerably
from one LEA to another. We would support the need to see a reduction
in bureaucracy whilst acknowledging the need for a process that
ensure transparency for schools and parents. We endorse that a
full and through assessment process is key to the individual receiving
the necessary support. NASEN would recommend, that as part of
a review, examples of good practice were collated from across
all local authorities to encourage the consistency of providing
5.2 Parental perception appears to be that
if their child has a statement they will be entitled to additional
support. There are, however, many pupils entitled to some intervention
or support without a statement. Parents appear to lack confidence
that schools are providing that to which their child is entitled.
5.3 NASEN also acknowledges that the statementing
process is being abused by parents who see it as a route to accessing
particular school places for secondary transfer. This is not always
the right educational choice for a child's needs and suggests
that local strategies for parental preference be re-examined.
5.4 Looking at the wider issues of the Every
Child Matters agenda, there should be a much broader "statement"
that includes all aspects of the child's needs and how these might
be addressed within a multi-agency framework. However, NASEN acknowledges
that the constraints by which we fund educational provision would
have to be considered within this process.
5.5 As more and more financial responsibility
is delegated to schools there needs to be more effective systems
to ensure that those pupils who are being funded to support their
special needs are actually receiving that funding. This needs
to be transparent to governors, local authorities and parents.
5.6 There needs to be a much greater emphasis
placed on parents, schools and local authorities working together
to ensure the appropriate provision for an individual child. Currently
the perception of "fighting" the LEA or school would
appear to be how parents view the statementing and tribunal process.
If parents believed and trusted that their child's needs were
accurately identified and that provision met those needs there
would be little recourse to appeal or Tribunal.
6. THE ROLE
6.1 NASEN believes that the vast majority
of parents have a high level of interest in the education of their
children and wish to be involved in supporting teachers and other
professionals in helping them achieve. One of the challenges is
that school staff need appropriate training to work positively
and sensitively with the parents.
6.2 It also believes that there is a significant
correlation between the successful education of children with
special educational needs and the full involvement of their parents.
6.3 Legislation and current educational
theory have emphasised the importance of the relationship between
parents and professionals. This should be seen as a partnership
that is characterized by mutuality of respect, understanding and
consistency of approach. It is a relationship where parents are
different but equal.
6.4 NASEN is concerned that appropriate
emphasis is placed on the responsibilities, rights and entitlements
of each party whilst at the same time ensuring that the individual
child with special educational needs remains the focus of concern.
6.5 There is an issue regarding parental
preference when selecting a school for a child with special educational
needs. Parental perception is that the choices may be limited
due to financial constraints or lack of suitable provision for
their child. It is accepted that parental choice may not always
be in the best interests of the child.
6.6 Many parents feel they are caught between
schools and LEAs and end up "fighting" for what they
believe to be right for their child. This is often due to resourcing
issues where parents get caught up in disputes between schools,
authorities and other professional. More collaboration is needed
between schools and authorities in order to meet the range of
pupil needs. An improvement and transparency in SEN financial
delegation to mainstream schools would help in this process.
6.7 NASEN is disappointed that the importance
of the voice of the child was not apparently considered to be
critical in understanding and agreeing the way forward in supporting
them to engage in the school system. NASEN strongly believes that
in all decisions concerning the child must be actively involved.
(NASEN Policy on Pupil ParticipationAppendix 3)
7. HOW SPECIAL
7.1 NASEN has been attempting to address
the issue of terminology to support our colleagues in Scotland
who will be broadening their remit and using the term Additional
Support Needs from November. We recognise that no particular term
is ideal and that words need to change to reflect changing practice
and reduce emerging negative stereotypes.
7.2 NASEN is concerned about categories
of need being used in isolation from the provision needed to meet
the need. Education professionals have moved away from the medical
model of labels and established terminology to reflect the support
the child will require to meet the need.
7.3 The Every Child Matters agenda is underpinned
by multi agency working and commitment to working collaboratively
to support the needs of vulnerable children and young people.
There would appear to be a variance in definitions between agencies
dealing with children and young people with special educational
needs. This can lead to misunderstanding and inappropriate support
7.4 NASEN has concerns regarding the PLASC
data codes that all schools use to catagorise their SEN pupils,
the interpretation of each code is not consistently applied. The
allocation of these codes needs to be carried out professionally
and parents and pupils need to be informed of the descriptor that
is used by schools.
SEN, INCLUDING EBSD
8.1 NASEN welcomed the Every Child Matters
Framework and the establishment of joined up services that should
meet all the needs of children and young people.
8.2 Early Intervention is key to any provision
that is needed by a child. The provision of a sound foundation
for future learning and development is fundamental to a child's
capacity to catch-up, keep up and maintain the progress of their
peers. If support is available from the early stages of development
it reduces the risk of long term underachievement and disaffection.
8.3 Within NASEN's diverse membership there
is representation from many different types of provision to support
the varying needs of pupils with SEN. As well as members who work
in specified mainstream and special schools, there are those who
are working in units, bases and centres that may be attached to
schools. NASEN's policy on Inclusion emphasises that:
"Children are entitled to receive, with
a suitable peer group, a broad balanced and relevant curriculum,
in the least restrictive environment, that meets their needs".
8.4 As 3.6 states special consideration
needs to be made regarding the provision for EBSD pupils. This
has become a very challenging area with some schools encountering
difficulties under the current inspection regime. It is also important
to ensure that these challenging young people receive the good
quality education that they are entitled to which can only be
developed from a fully competent and trained staff. Flexibility
within the curriculum would be a key to this success. It is apparent
that where there has been success, there has been this flexibility
in ensuring the curriculum meets the needs of these particular
8.5 NASEN has a concern regarding the transition
process that young people encounter from children's services to
adult services. There would appear to be a lack of support and
guidance to ensure that this very difficult time in a young persons
life is managed effectively, taking into account the individuals
9. THE LEGISLATIVE
SEN PROVISION AND
DA 2001, WHICH EXTENDED
THE DDA TO
9.1 It is too early to be clear about the
overall impact of the DDA on schools. Our concern is that, to
date, attention may have been limited to structural access issues
and has not had impact on curriculum or ethos, which is key, in
our view, to meeting the needs of the broader range of pupils
9.2 The DDA is very supportive of those
with a recognised diagnosis. It is unclear how much it might support
9.3 NASEN is concerned that many parents
of children and young people with special education needs do not
wish their child to be classified as "disabled".
NASEN: POLICY DOCUMENT ON INCLUSION
NASEN believes that:
Every human being has an entitlement
to personal, social and intellectual development and must be given
an opportunity to achieve his/her potential in learning.
Every human being is unique in terms
of characteristics, interests, abilities, motivation and learning
Educational systems should be designed
to take into account these wide diversities.
Those with exceptional learning needs
and/or disabilities should have access to high quality and appropriate
Both nationally and internationally, there is
an ongoing debate about the merits and meaning of greater inclusion
for children with special educational needs.
This is sometimes defined simplistically in terms of placement.
Some parents, disabled people and professionals
argue that young people deprived of mainstream access are being
denied a basic human right to be educated alongside their peers.
Others point out that children's attendance at mainstream school
does not guarantee their needs are met. They argue that children
require an appropriate curriculum, resources and positive staff
attitudes and skills to ensure that they are "included"
in any meaningful sense.
At the other extreme, there are those who see
inclusion of all children in mainstream schooling as either impractical
or else so demanding of resources that it would breach the principle
of reasonable and equitable use of resources for the school population
as a whole. Recent disability rights legislation has challenged
this view, on the basis of equal opportunities and there is developing
recognition that inclusion is a lifelong issue, linked to enhanced
participation in society. However, there are still issues about
how greater inclusion is best achieved and about the pace at which
developments should be expected to occur. There are also differing
views about the role of special schools in a more inclusive school
In NASEN's view, inclusion is not a simple concept,
restricted to issues of placement. Its definition has to encompass
broad notions of educational access and recognise the importance
of catering for diverse needs.
Increasing mainstream access is an important goal. However, it
will not develop spontaneously and needs to be actively planned
for and promoted. Moreover, inclusive principles highlight the
importance of meeting children's individual needs, of working
in partnership with pupils and their parents/carers and of involving
teachers and schools in the development of more inclusive approaches.
Inclusion is a process not a state.
Valuing diversity: All children
are educable and are the responsibility of the education service.
They should be equally valued whether or not they have special
or additional educational needs. Children present a rich and diverse
range of strengths and needs. Inclusion is most likely to be achieved
when this diversity is recognised and regarded positively.
Entitlement: Children are
entitled to receive, with a suitable peer group, a broad, balanced
and relevant curriculum, in the least restrictive environment.
Wherever possible, this should be in a mainstream school, recognising
that appropriate support, advice and resources may be necessary
to achieve this. Parents and young people are entitled to express
a preference for where that education should take place.
Participation: All children
and their parents are entitled to be treated with respect and
should be actively encouraged to make their views known so that
they can be taken into account. All arrangements should protect
and enhance the dignity of those involved.
Individual needs: The development
of inclusive practice should not create situations within which
the individual needs of children are left unmet. A range of flexible
responses should be available to meet such needs and to accommodate
Planning: All educational
and inter-agency planning should be based on inclusive principles.
Inclusion requires ongoing strategic planning at both system and
individual pupil level. Considerable effort is still needed to
overcome the barriers to inclusion that exist.
Collective responsibility: The
principle of inclusion extends into society as a whole. Within
educational establishments, local and central government departments,
it should therefore be an issue for all staff rather than the
exclusive responsibility of a particular group of individuals.
Professional development: Inclusion
requires both extension of the application of existing skills
and the development of new ones. All staff need to feel supported
through this process and have access to a range of appropriate
courses, advice and resources.
Equal opportunities: There
is a potential tension between an emphasis on those "standards"
which lead to a placement in a hierarchy and the pursuit of inclusion.
Whilst the two are not incompatible, it is essential that the
tension is recognised and that account is taken of all pupils"
needs in planning educational development.
NASEN believes that school managers
Seek to ensure that there is an agreed
understanding within the school of the broader meaning of inclusion;
that it is a quality issue that concerns the entire process of
education and not simply where children are placed. Appropriate
development goals should be set for this area and progress monitored.
Recognise the links between inclusive
education and catering for diversity. This means promoting a whole
school ethos that values all children and their families, whatever
their individual needs.
Foster a climate that supports flexible
and creative responses to individual needs. A lack of success
in initial responses should not be deemed an adequate reason to
abandon inclusion, but rather as a "starting point".
Recognise inclusion as part of the
school's equal opportunities policy and that there need to be
clear arrangements for implementation, funding and monitoring.
Ensure that all school developments
and policies take account of inclusive principles.
Ensure that the admission of pupils
with special educational needs is handled positively and sensitively.
While, in some cases, additional support and advice may be necessary
to ensure that children's needs are adequately met, all parents
and children should be made to feel welcome.
Ensure that appropriate assessment
and support arrangements are in place (including appropriately
trained staff), both within the school and from external agencies,
so that children's needs are properly addressed.
Work collaboratively with local authority
officers and other local agencies to identify any existing barriers
to inclusion and consider how these may best be overcome.
Recognise that inclusion is the responsibility
of all school staff. Developments in practice will need the support
of all staff and the school community as a whole. They will need
to be consulted and involved in developments from the beginning.
Enable all staff to have access to
suitable professional development opportunities which will support
the development of inclusive practice.
NASEN believes that local government
Encourage and develop shared local
responsibility and commitment to educating and providing for all
children in their area. Local authorities should provide a clear
lead but also recognise the role of other agencies (both voluntary
and statutory) in providing for children with special educational
Recognise that inclusive education
is a key issue that needs to underpin all local developments.
Steps should be taken to ensure that all authority staff understand
and have reference to inclusive principles in their particular
area of responsibility.
Recognise that inclusion is more
than mainstream placement and that positive encouragement, effective
support and appropriate resourcing are prerequisites to ensure
that progress is achieved.
Prepare and maintain strategic plans
for developing inclusion within their area and monitor progress.
These should identify the expected contribution of a range of
partners (including local special schools) towards promoting inclusive
Work with schools to develop more
inclusive policies and practices. This should include support
at the whole school/management level as well as support and advice
to enable staff to respond more confidently and effectively to
children with individual needs.
Identify and disseminate good practice
in schools with regard to inclusion and provide appropriate professional
development opportunities designed to support inclusive developments.
This should include staff from different settings undertaking
joint staff development.
Monitor progress towards inclusive
practice, both at the school and individual pupil level, using
both quantitative and qualitative indicators, in order to identify
positive developments and areas where increased support and advice
may be necessary. As an element of this, they should encourage
the active consideration of inclusive options at pupils' annual
NASEN believes that central government should:
Provide a clear lead by ensuring
that all policies are based on inclusive principles and value
all children and their families. Existing and new legislation
and guidance should be audited to ensure that these support and
do not undermine (or act as disincentives to) the inclusive process.
Ensure strategic links between government
departments in order to support the co-ordination of inclusive
practice at the local level.
Identify inclusion as a quality issue
for local authorities and schools and ensure that appropriate
indicators are included in any framework used for inspection and
monitoring at both these levels.
Recognise that inclusion means valuing
diversity and having the flexibility to respond to it. Any framework
for measuring this should take this into account. Methods for
assessing pupils and school standards should encourage and not
Set a clear national framework for
the further development of inclusion, so that progress can be
monitored over time. This should include a range of relevant national
Support the development of good practice
through research, dissemination and the provision of appropriate
funding. The importance of both initial training and continual
professional development to promote good practice in this area
should be recognised.
Monitor patterns and trends to ensure
continuity of provision and parity of opportunity within and across
Recognise the links between the development
of greater inclusion and the need for adequate and sustainable
funding for education as a whole.
1 The terms "children" and "young people"
are used throughout; however it is recognised that similar principles
apply to all learners across the 0-19 age range and to all educational
The issue of inclusion applies equally to a broader range of young
people with individual needs and the term "diversity"
is therefore used, where appropriate, within this policy document. Back
In NASEN's view, similar responsibilities apply to preschool and
post 16 education providers. Back
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, these duties are shared
between the Head Teacher and the governing body. In Scotland,
they lie with the Head Teacher. Back
In England, Scotland and Wales, Local Authorities; in Northern
Ireland, Education and Library Boards. Back