More government funds for special needs

The government’s policy of cutting education budgets is slowly but surely going into reverse, with yet another announcement of expenditure from an area that was previously cut.

As always the reversal is justified as a result of research – in this case research into special needs children.  The government is now rolling out a new programme with £14m input into it, to help special needs children further.

Here’s part of the government’s announcement…

Results from the Achievement for All programme, which has been running in around 450 schools for the last two years, saw children make greater progress in English and maths than other comparable children across the country. A significant number even exceeded the progress of non-special needs children.

The independent evaluation, carried out by the University of Manchester, also shows pupil attendance significantly improved – with an average reduction in persistent absence of 10 per cent.

Key findings from the evaluation show:

  • The pilot was successful in narrowing the attainment gap between special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and non-SEND children.
  • 37 per cent of children achieved or exceeded expected levels of progress for all pupils nationally in English.
  • 42 per cent of children achieved or exceeded expected levels of progress for all pupils nationally in maths.
  • Improvements in attendance with a decrease of just over 10 per cent in persistent absenteeism.
  • Behaviour of pupils improved, with reductions in teacher-reported bullying and behaviour problems.
  • Awareness and focus on SEND improved – with more personalised teaching and learning.
  • There was better engagement with parents and teachers – with schools reporting excellent relationships with parents rising from 12 per cent to 48 per cent.
  • 90 per cent of schools have put Achievement for All in their school plan, and nearly all said they will continue with regular conversations with parents.
  • For children with complex needs, those on free school meals (FSM) and those with English as an additional language (EAL), progress was good but slower than their peers.

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather said:

Children with SEND deserve the same chances as other children. We are working hard with schools and parents to make progress on the proposals we outlined in the SEND Green Paper.

As part of this, we are able to provide £14 million to help fund the roll-out of Achievement for All. Schools can now see for themselves the evidence that this programme works. We want more schools to come forward and sign up. I’m pleased that Brian Lamb will be leading the charity responsible for advising schools on how to run the programme in their schools.

To help support the successful roll-out of Achievement for All in more schools, the report recommends:

  • A strong focus on school-led improvement to transform the outcomes for children with SEND. The most successful schools in the pilot had strong leadership from the head teacher or senior leadership team – rather than relying purely on the SEN co-ordinator (SENCO).
  • Teachers should carry out regular target reviews with parents to monitor progress of children and assess where extra help may be required.
  • Regular, scheduled conversations on educational outcomes between parents and teachers should take place, with teachers given extra training in managing these relationships.
  • Achievement for All is most successful when schools build on existing good practice and share ideas between schools.
  • For schools with high proportion of FSM, EAL and children with complex needs, schools should think about focusing additional resources on supporting these groups when implementing Achievement for All.

The Government is investing £14 million to roll out the programme across the country so more children can benefit. The programme is being delivered by a new charity, Achievement for All 3As, chaired by Brian Lamb, supported by PwC. The charity is working with the New Schools Network to support Academies and Free Schools to take up the Achievement for All offer. Achievement for All 3As is currently working with 41 local authorities and 598 schools. The Government estimates that overall 1,000 schools will have signed up to the programme by April next year.

Tony Attwood


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