Education Bill

Memorandum submitted by the National Association of Hospital and Home Teaching (E 105)

The National Association of Hospital and Home Teaching is a group of professionals who work with pupils with medical and mental health needs in hospital schools and pupil referral units. Members are either teachers or teaching assistants who have extensive experience and continuing professional development in supporting children and young people with medical needs, and how medical conditions impact on ability to access education. We have a unique depth of, knowledge, skills set and expertise.

The children and young people we work with are some of the most vulnerable in society. To say that education is not a matter of life and death could be argued in our situation.

We represent provisions which are for ‘those who have been bullied and are too scared to attend school, children who are ill and teenage mothers’ i.e. NOT excluded and who number more than 50% of pupils who need alternative provision.

We would like to make a response to The Education Bill but also refer to section 3.30 of the White Paper which specifically refers to recommendations regarding alternative provision which do not appear in the Bill.

We would also wish to include our response to some parts of the discussions held in the Education Committee.

1. New Section 1D(1) PRUs allowed to become academies – it seems likely that there may be different types of academies e.g. those who will only provide part time provision. This will go against the recommendation in the White Paper – how will this be legislated?

2. Improving the quality of alternative provision by increasing autonomy – PRUs would welcome the freedoms that would result from more autonomy and management committees with greater governing responsibilities, reducing unnecessary paperwork and improving quality and value for money, which in turn will be linked to better outcomes

3. Encouraging new providers - Whilst we welcome the increase in hours for pupils with medical needs whose health allows them to access it, we are concerned about the rise of wholly virtual learning providers who are not properly regulated and them being perceived as the cost effective solution to alternative provision. It has its place in a blended learning personalised package, but the risks to safeguarding and development of more entrenched social and emotional difficulties are enhanced. There is no electronic replacement for human face to face contact and the development and modelling of positive relationships. Our members are successfully using models of virtual learning as a means to enhance the curriculum, but not to replace it.

Members are concerned already by the number of alternative providers entering the market place with no appropriate accountability or qualifications. Staff in these provisions are usually not qualified teachers. We would make a similar comment for free schools.

Quality assurance and quality mark for alternative provision – this will need to be in place before the market is opened up to new providers or there will be no accountability.

4. Transfer of information between settings – our members work very hard to ensure there is open communication channels and exchange of information to ensure that the transition from one provision to another is as seamless as possible.

If children and young people settle well in our provisions, we know from evidence that their long term outcomes are much improved if they can remain in the secure and safe environment which best suits their learning.

5. Staff supporting pupils with medical needs work in a holistic multi-agency manner where the child is at the centre of the discussions around most appropriate education to meet their needs. This would tie in with the proposals contained in the SEN Green Paper, where there will be one assessment and one pot of money for that child. This could then extend to children with additional needs but without a statement, as most pupils with medical needs come into his category.

6. Ofsted reports that excluded pupils should not be educated with pupils with medical needs. It may be better to separate out the 2 distinct types of PRU.

We would like to argue that rather than these settings being ‘alternative provisions’, this is the most appropriate provision for this vulnerable group of children & young people.

7. Comment from Sir Alan Steer following Q114

"There are children who have gone off our radar screens to such a degree that we can only guess about them falling into abuse. We do not actually know that, but an intelligent person would guess that that is happening because they are perhaps having an hour a week of home tuition week after week, month after month. It is quite untenable, and I was pleased that the Government will implement the requirement that all local authorities must provide proper education by September. The question is how we will enforce that. That obligation has been there since 1996-I think-and the local authorities have not done it."  

Sir Alan Steer goes onto say that levels of expertise are needed and reasonable access to expertise others don’t possess – "someone with expertise to act as a champion for that child and their parent, and take them through a complicated and alien system".

While Sir Alan was speaking about children with special educational needs, we believe this extends to children with additional needs such as medical or mental health problems.

Staff within medical PRUs and hospital schools have that expertise and act as that champion and advocate for the young person and their family.

8. Committee Transcript Comments from 1 March 2011 Q189:

Rejection of pupils with SEN from academies – our experience supports evidence cited in the transcript that there is prejudice against children with SEN difficulties. We find that this is also the case for students with medical needs. We have extensive case study evidence of pupils ‘excluded by the back door’.

Sadly, we have experience of children who have vested interest in remaining ill as this will prevent them from returning to an inappropriate provision i.e. mainstream.

We also have experience of children who do not quite fit anyone’s criteria but find mainstream school challenging’ (ref Back on Track) because of the busy and complex environments of some of the larger schools.

9. White Paper: "The Importance of teaching"

Para 3.30 Provision of full time education in alternative provision – will this result in a change to the statutory guidance ‘Access to education 2001’. Will the statutory guidance then be changed from the current minimum of 5 hours on which local authorities base their funding of such medical alternative provisions?

Para 3.31 Attainment in hospital schools and PRUs –Our evidence suggests that teaching and learning in hospital schools and medical PRUs is good or outstanding in the vast majority of inspections. Evidence from our members suggest that outcomes are much better than the average of 3.1%

achieving A* - C grades, being consistently between 15 – 20%.

March 2011