Even from a neutral perspective, 2016 was one of the most extraordinary years in living memory. As we begin 2017, the political status quo is in such a state of flux globally and domestically, that many ‘givens’ and established norms have been swept away by a tide of populism. In the wake of such a year, when the only certainty is the undertow of uncertainty, it is tempting to look at our education and health systems as safety-nets of stability. But even here, in the great public institutions that sustain and nurture our humanity, there is uncertainty.
Navigating this turbulence would be tricky enough at the best of times. But, combine this post-Brexit world with the pre-Brexit education reforms and one realises that the sheer external and internal forces at sea are daunting. And yet, despite this, SEND practitioners and the education system have shown remarkable resilience in a stormy time that is as far from the doldrums as Cape Horn is from the English Channel.
So, with all of this playing out – and at the beginning of a new year – it’s important to seek guidance from those in the know: those who make the decisions in government; those who support our practitioners; and those who are experts in the art of policy. With this squarely in view, I drew together a dream-team wish-list of experts for my readers to pose their questions to: three of them duly obliged and I commend their invaluable insights to you.
You sent in a flood of questions, I pared them and posed them to the country’s most influential SEND figure (the Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families, Edward Timpson) and the chief executive of one of the most high-profile charities for SEND practitioners (the CEO of nasen, Dr Adam Boddison). Their responses to many similar questions set out their views on such things as the Code of Practice, early identification, nominal budgets, the new national curriculum, the Rochford Review, teacher training and other SEND questions. Most importantly, their answers reveal similarities and differences that not only reflect their positions, but also shed light on the SEND landscape and education more generally.
To complement the Q&As, I thought that it would also be useful to commission a thought-leadership piece on the SEND reforms from one of the country’s most respected SEND policy experts and academics. I was thrilled when Brian Lamb accepted my proposal and his progress analysis of education, health and care plans (EHCPs), outcomes, the local offer and strategic engagement is elucidating.
Finally, as you may well have noticed, the initial email that links to this issue has been redesigned, so that it is cleaner, easier to navigate, and links to the pieces on our website. This means that we’re not clogging up your inbox with 1,000s of words, but giving you a summary of each piece, which you can click-through-to on our website should you wish. This allows us to provide you with even more useful content. To this end, you’ll not only find a summary of a research survey that we carried out with hundreds of our successful CPT3A delegates; but you can also read a separate Q&A with two of our most recent CPT3A graduates.
Thank you so much for subscribing to The SEND Practitioner. I hope that you find it useful and that you have a fine start to 2017.
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