As we work on our winter issue special needs feature the KidAround team were interested to read the opinions of Robert Ashton, one of the UK’s most successful social entrepreneurs. He says that enterprising thinking will be vital in securing the future funding needed for children with Special Educational Needs.
Successive Governments have pursued a policy of mainstream inclusion for SEN pupils which has resulted in the coalition’s Comprehensive Spending Review not guaranteeing or ‘ring-fencing’ services for special needs children.
At the ‘Towards a positive Future’ conference in October delegates will debate the challenge to make sure that these children do not get lost in mainstream education and that the funding vital for the additional classroom support (speech therapy, physiotherapy etc) they require is not lost.
Because SEN funding has not been ring-fenced special needs provision has largely fallen on the shoulders of charities, voluntary organisations and councils.
At the conference social entrepreneur and conference co-organiser Robert Ashton will aim to inspire and motivate parents and professionals to think more enterprisingly to obtain, fund and provide the support the SEN children they care for require.
‘Big Society’, however you interpret it means change: ‘Towards a positive Future’ aims to help parents and professionals manage change.
‘Big Society is about equality of opportunity and fairness. Youngsters with special educational needs deserve the help they need to reach their potential in life. In a world where increasingly everyone tries to be the same, those who are different have a bigger role to play – keeping us all grounded in reality,’ said Mr Ashton.
‘Parents worn out by caring for a special needs child often don’t have the energy left to fight for the funding their child needs. Bureaucrats need to understand that the better the support a child gets at school, the less they’re likely to cost to support when they grow up. ‘
‘Only bullies hit weak kids; surely funders of SEN provision don’t want to be seen as bullies, do they?’ he said.
The aims of the ‘Towards a positive Future’ have been highlighted by figures that were released by Kent County Council this week following a freedom of information request by former head teacher Peter Read.
He claims that pupils with learning difficulties are far more likely to be excluded from school than those without.
Figures from the last academic year demonstrate that 22 secondary SEN statemented children were expelled out of a total of 168. 68 children with learning difficulties were also excluded which means that more than half of the children expelled had some form of learning difficulty.
‘Towards a positive Future’ is a two day conference which will focus on providing encouragement, information and hope to parents of, and professionals working with SEN children.
‘Towards a positive Future’ takes place on 14 – 15 October 2011 at Arlington Arts Centre, Newbury. Click here for further information.