Creating a fairer Britain
One of the key inequality challenges identified by the Commission is to tackle discrimination and disadvantage faced by disabled learners. We welcome therefore the Green Paper highlighting the level of disadvantage faced by learners with SEN and disabilities, including issues of bullying and exclusion and we welcome proposals to tackle systemic barriers and to improve practice in schools. We provide additional evidence to show the size of the challenge in closing gaps and the imperative to put in place changes that can improve outcomes.
We welcome the Government’s commitment to early identification and assessment of support need. We consider the Education, Health and Care plan to be a positive step forward in ensuring services are joined up more effectively for disabled children with a statement, and welcome the requirement on agencies to provide services with their responsibility clearly outlined in each plan. We welcome the commitment to a multi-agency approach to assessment and planning, recognising the range of support needs, and the commitment to reduce the time taken for the statutory assessment process, as any delay can have a lasting effect on a child’s learning. We welcome the requirement for local authorities to define the local offer with full information for parents.
The key question is whether these changes will have a positive impact on attainment and outcomes, and we welcome the proposals for local Pathfinders to test out ways of delivering effective change. We expect that equality impact assessments will be part of the piloting process.
We also welcome the piloting of an independent right of appeal for children regarding the SEN assessment and statementing process. We also welcome an amendment to the Equality Act 2010 which provides an opportunity for disabled learners to appeal against an exclusion.
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