Four-month consultation on reform

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LAST month my colleague, Michael Gove, launched our Green Paper on provision for young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

It marked the start of a four-month consultation period on how best the Government can reform the system.

The Green Paper focuses on children who are disabled or who have been identified as having a special educational need but it’s also about their families who provide them with the care they need and who, themselves, require support; and the teachers and health workers who strive to provide support to individuals and their carers.

There are inspirational stories of when things go right and children are nurtured, enabling them to fulfil their potential but there are examples where children and families have been severely let down.

My own postbag and meetings with parents and carers over the years has shown me – very clearly – that some families feel they have to constantly battle with the very system put in place to help them.

They face delays and unnecessary bureaucracy at every turn.

I was shocked but not surprised when I learnt that the Council for Disabled Children estimate that a disabled child experiences 32 assessments as they grow up. It’s not acceptable – for the impact it has on families and for the associated cost. There’s also the knock-on effect that children and young people with SEN are twice as likely to be out of education, training or employment when they leave school.

Our Green Paper is going to be looking at five areas: early identification and support; giving parents more control; learning and achieving; preparing for adulthood; and services working together for families.

I’d urge anyone with an interest in SEN to write to: send.greenpaper@education.gsi.gov.uk.

I thought I’d finish by mentioning that today sees the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority’s latest publication of MPs’ expense claims.

This occasion will show that a £3.95 portion of one of my claims for a combined TV and internet package was rejected.

I soon realised that this was because my daughters had watched an on-demand film without telling me.

I should have picked up on this from the itemised bill but I must confess I failed to take note of it.

IPSA were right to reject that element of the claim and I’ll be taking a closer look at bills in the future.

I’m sure my unpaid claim will be covered by local and national press but I hope I’ve explained what occurred and put readers’ minds at rest.

FRANCIS MAUDE

MP for Horsham