I can’t help leaving NASEN Live in Bolton with very mixed feelings. The sessions led by the Department about the draft code left me frustrated and I was clearly not alone in my frustration. The system is changing, we hear that loud and clear but instead of “…and this is how it will work…” which is what everyone wants to know, there seemed to be a half-hearted attempt at consultation (more like goading) looking at positives and negatives of the existing stages. It felt like a way to contain discussion rather than to enable it.
NASEN was a perfect example of how many fantastic individuals, tools and services exist and how much relevant research is available on how to enhance learning for those who experience difficulties. The trouble is that SENCOs get precious little time to consider it, let alone digest and utilise it. The new code, any code in fact, relies upon the notion that the need for specialist in-put in our schools is exceptional and can be found easily and bought in cost effectively. I know that is not the case. Only joined up thinking and joined up services make the difference between administering SEND and making SEND provision effective for students and their families. I don’t care what they call the stages of the prioritisation process as long as its core aim is to bring much needed resources and expertise into our schools so teachers can get on the job of changing lives.