Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

responses to consultations

April 2019

CSIE responds to Ofsted’s consultation on the proposed education inspection framework 2019

The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has had an open consultation, inviting feedback on its proposed new inspection framework “Education inspection framework 2019: inspecting the substance of education”, which is expected to be introduced in September.

In its response, CSIE welcomed the proposal to introduce a ‘quality of education’ judgement, seeing this as a more inclusive approach, shifting the emphasis away from performance outcomes. It added that this could be more closely aligned with the statutory duty which schools have, under the Equality Act 2010, to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to respond to the needs of disabled pupils. As this is an anticipatory duty, CSIE suggested that any evaluation of the quality of education should include an evaluation of the school’s readiness to respond to the needs of existing and prospective disabled pupils, as is the legal requirement. CSIE also asked for greater clarity on the criteria which inspectors will use to make judgements on the quality and implementation of Education and Health Care Plans, particularly for children and young people who have low incidence needs.

CSIE also suggested that the new inspection framework should be more closely aligned with key themes from the Code of Practice, such as the concepts of person-centred planning, empowerment and preparing for adulthood, to help ensure that schools are encouraged and supported in its implementation.

With regard to the Equality, diversity and inclusion statement which formed part of the same consultation, CSIE’s response welcomed the existence of this document and its clear emphasis on the public sector equality duty. At the same time CSIE expressed concern at the apparent hierarchy of protected characteristics and the implication that some should be given priority over others, as there is no such hierarchy suggested in the Equality Act. At a time when homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying continue to be rife in schools, the protected characteristics of sexual orientation and gender reassignment are just as important as those listed as more relevant to schools.

Last but not least, in its response CSIE suggested that the new framework offers an excellent opportunity to reinstate the limiting judgement according to which a school cannot be judged to be outstanding unless it can evidence its work to promote disability equality and increase its capacity to respond to the needs of disabled children and young people. This would be in line with the Government’s declaration of 2009, made in the process of ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which states that the UK Government is committed to “continuing to develop an inclusive system where parents of disabled children have increasing access to mainstream schools and staff, which have the capacity to meet the needs of disabled children”.

December 2014

CSIE response to the Department for Education’s consultation on performance descriptors for statutory teacher assessment in KS1&2

The Department for Education has sought views on new performance descriptors for statutory teacher assessment at the end of key stages 1 and 2, which are being revised in light of the new curriculum introduced in September 2014.

In its response, CSIE highlighted the damaging effect that the proposed terminology could have on children’s self-esteem and suggested a number of alternatives. Our response also suggested that the draft descriptors should be revised, rather than introducing a new system which acknowledges a gap in its own structure.

Above all, CSIE expressed significant concern at the way in which the standards agenda continues to stand in the way of including disabled children in their ordinary local school. To mitigate against this, CSIE suggested that there should be scope within league tables (or other systems which compare attainment results) to value schools’ contribution to the learning and development of disabled children or those identified as having special educational needs. In other words, we proposed that schools should also be judged on how well they serve their local community and that the government should offer incentives to encourage schools to admit children expected to make slow academic progress.

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September 2014

CSIE response to the Department for Education’s consultation on Special Educational Needs and Disability Data Descriptors

The new Children and Families Act has introduced wide-ranging reforms in the education of disabled children or those identified as having special educational needs. The new law applies to children and young people aged 0-25 and the Department for Education has been reviewing the terminology used in different parts of the sector. In the past, further education had used different terminology from schools, even when attempting to describe the same person. In an effort to allow for better monitoring and to improve the support provided by schools and colleges, the DfE has produced a set of proposals on appropriate terminology and consulted on these during August (and, granting a week’s extension, until today, 10 September).

In its response, CSIE stressed that any terminology used should be consistent with that proposed by UK disabled people’s organisations. For example, a clear distinction should be made between “impairment” and “disability” and the two words should not be used interchangeably.

CSIE’s response also drew attention to an important omission in existing data collection systems, which is in danger of being perpetuated. No information is currently available on the proportion of time that children and young people spend in different settings, for example on how time is divided between ordinary and special schools for children in dual placements. For children in special classes, units or resource bases in ordinary schools, no information is available on the proportion of time they spend alongside, or separated from, other pupils in the school, which means that pupils in such placements may have remarkably different experiences. The recent Trends report (“Contrasting responses to diversity: school placement trends 2007-13 for all local authorities in England”, researched and written by Dr Alison Black and Professor Brahm Norwich, published by CSIE 2014), recommended that the DfE collects time-based information from schools and colleges, in the way that USA data collection systems have been doing for years. A key aim of this consultation was to improve the experiences of disabled children and young people, or those identified as having special educational needs. It is hard to imagine how experiences can be improved, without a clear picture of what they are in the first place.

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May 2014

CSIE response to the Department for Education’s consultation on the revised draft Code of Practice

Setting a consultation period of only three weeks including Easter break and May Bank Holiday (total just 12 working days) the Department for Education has sought responses to the revised SEN and Disability Code of Practice: 0-25 years.

Blink and you’ve missed it. Such astonishing haste adds salt to the wounds of those concerned at the pace of change and the magnitude of major changes to the education system, especially as there is little or no evidence of how these changes will improve existing arrangements. We also deeply regret the limited number of closed and very specific questions on the online response form, the only route for submitting responses, which effectively deprived respondents of any opportunity to voice concerns about the current state of the Code of Practice and its fitness for purpose. We quip poorly that this seems more like con-saltation than consultation.

CSIE’s main response has been made through the collective voice of the Special Educational Consortium (SEC), of which CSIE is a member.

In its individual response, CSIE welcomed the newly added references to the Equality Act 2010 and to Article 24 (Education) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and recommended that these should be mentioned consistently throughout the Code, so that new legislation can be understood in the context existing. CSIE’s response also called for a more thorough incorporation of the existing statutory guidance on Inclusive Schooling, as had previously been promised by the DfE. CSIE warned that, without strategic leadership and clear guidance on how to advance more inclusive education for disabled children and young people, the DfE could be in breach of its obligations to them.

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December 2013

CSIE response to the Department for Education’s consultation on the draft Code of Practice

As part of the passage of the Children and Families Bill through Parliament, the Department for Education (DfE) has been consulting on the draft Code of Practice and draft regulations and transitional arrangements.

CSIE’s main response has been made through the collective voice of the Special Educational Consortium (SEC), of which CSIE is a member. This includes the SEC statement informing the DfE that the draft Code of Practice could not be supported if it was laid before Parliament for approval in its current form, and the more detailed consultation response submitted on 9 December. Both these documents are available on the SEC website.

In its individual response, CSIE recommended that national and international equality legislation should be more clearly reflected in the revised Code of Practice and that the Department for Education should use the ongoing legal reform as an opportunity to safeguard and promote greater disability equality in education.

Our response focused on two significant aspects of the law reform. The draft Code of Practice reflects what is currently in the Children and Families Bill as this moves through Report Stage at the House of Lords. Both documents repeat what the last law reform established more than ten years ago: that children who want (and whose parents want) a mainstream education, will be placed in a mainstream school as long as this is thought to be compatible with the efficient education of others in that school. In our response, we argued that in the 21st century this sounds inappropriate and anachronistic. It would not be said for a child from an ethnic minority background, or who speaks little or no English. Schools are presented with small and large challenges all the time; on the whole, they do a very good job of responding, and often rising, to the challenge. If any school is concerned that the presence of one child could compromise the efficient education of others, the government should support it to organise teaching and learning in a way that benefits everyone; not say that they do not have to include disabled children. We argued that the pretext of efficient education of others allows schools to continue to exclude disabled children, and that this seriously undermines parental choice. Promising a choice without building capacity in schools is like issuing a ticket and keeping the door locked.

Our response also focused on the unexpected suggestion that children and young people can be placed in special schools indefinitely, even if their needs have not been formally assessed. We suggested that this appears to be an oversight, which we urged the DfE to rectify as a matter of urgency. We also added a brief note on why we think this could be detrimental for some young people, for the unlikely event that establishing such an enormous loophole in the system was intentional.

Finally, our response pointed out that a response time of only nine weeks seems astonishingly short for a consultation of this magnitude: 13 separate documents, a total of 239 pages, proposing major changes to the education system. We understand that this concern has been echoed by many others.

Earlier today, 10 December, it emerged that the Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA), after submitting its response to the consultation detailing why the draft Code of Practice is not fit for purpose, has called for a moratorium on this legislation. CSIE has registered its support for this call. IPSEA chief executive, Jane McConnell, said “Political enthusiasm for making a change must not be allowed to drive bad legislation forward”.

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April 2012

A matter of choice

The Labour Party has sought the views of parents, young people and education practitioners on how to improve educational outcomes for disabled children and young people and those categorised as having special educational needs, in order to inform policies in the run-up to the next general election.

CSIE has submitted a brief summary of key issues to bring to the attention of the review panel and has scheduled a meeting to discuss these in more detail with Sharon Hodgson, Shadow Education Minister, who is chairing the review panel.

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November 2011

CSIE a signatory in joint response

CSIE is a signatory in the joint response submitted by the ROCK (Rights of the Child UK) coalition to the Commission on a Bill of Rights’ discussion paper “Do we need a UK Bill of Rights?” The response takes the position that we do, in addition to the existing Human Rights Act. It suggests that we need a Bill of Rights “that brings meaning and force to internationally agreed human rights” and further supports children’s rights.

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June 2011

CSIE response to the Department for Education’s Green Paper

CSIE has responded to the Department for Education’s Green Paper Support and aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability. In its response, CSIE disputed the government’s unsubstantiated claim that there has been a bias towards inclusion and argued that government proposals suggest an underlying bias towards segregation. CSIE pointed out that the government’s commitment to parental choice confirms that parents “will be able to express a preference” but offers no assurances that this preference will be met. To the contrary, the Green Paper proposes a number of conditions that will have to be met, which effectively allow the status quo to remain unchallenged. For parents who might have been heartened by the promise of real choice, this can only add insult to injury.

In its response CSIE further argued that support for children does not necessarily improve by strengthening assessment and identification processes; made the case for funding to be targeted at services provided instead of being allocated according to perceived need of individual pupils; and commented on proposed changes to the Code of Practice and initial teacher education. CSIE expressed strong reservations at the suggestion that special schools could be granted academy status and warned on the likelihood of this backfiring on local authorities’ ability to ensure that appropriate provision is made available for all learners. CSIE suggested how the Local Offer can support the government’s commitment to offering a real choice to all parents. Finally, CSIE expressed significant concern at the way the Green Paper seems disconnected from the Education Bill, currently before Parliament, as well as the Equality Act 2010 and the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child and on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, both of which the UK has ratified.

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November 2010

CSIE response to the Government Equalities Office consultation on the public sector Equality Duty

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) sought feedback from individuals and organisations on proposed draft regulations containing the specific duties through which public bodies will meet the general Equality Duty, an important part of the Equality Act 2010 which is due to come into force in April 2011. In its response, CSIE welcomed the proposed emphasis on equality objectives but expressed great concern at the suggestion that public bodies with less than150 employees should not have to report on equality in their workforce. This would affect most schools and could serve to weaken equalities legislation, instead of simplifying and strengthening the law as the Equality Act set out to do. CSIE applauded the suggestion that citizens should be empowered to hold public bodies to account, but stressed that this should be as well as, not instead of, public bodies’ accountability to government departments. CSIE also suggested that, if government departments are no longer required to propose national priorities for their sector and public bodies are invited to select their own priorities, awareness-raising opportunities should be made available on a range of equality issues, so that long-standing misconceptions and prejudice can be seriously addressed. People at risk of discrimination should not have the responsibility for change left solely in their own hands. CSIE conveyed its concern on a range of other issues, such as: proposals to remove the reporting duties with regard to disability equality; the seemingly retrogressive removal of recommendations laid out in the Macpherson report with regard to racial equality; and the lack of any minimum requirements for objectives.

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October 2010

CSIE response to the Department for Education’s Call For Views

CSIE has responded to the government’s Call For Views on the forthcoming Green Paper (Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities). In its response, CSIE has urged the government to simplify legislation so that the system is clearer for parents, schools and other providers, as recommended in the recent Ofsted report. CSIE also suggested that this should provide an opportunity to move away from the term “special educational needs” and, instead, adopt terminology which is consistent with the social model of disability. CSIE argued that, if the promise of parental choice is to be meaningful for all parents, the capacity of mainstream schools to provide for the full diversity of learners has to be improved. Our response also suggested that, as part of far-reaching reforms envisaged, funding models that support processes, rather than individuals, should be developed, so that funds can be directed towards supporting young people’s education, instead of lengthy and bureaucratic processes of assessment and/or litigation. Stronger accountability procedures were suggested as a means of evaluating how resources are used and the impact these are having on the learning and development of all children and young people. Finally, CSIE offered a range of examples of good practice and urged the Department for Education to offer strategic leadership in developing more inclusive provision for all in mainstream schools, so that the government’s promise of parental choice can be meaningful for all parents.

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September 2010

Summary of Education Select Committee, Inquiry into behaviour and discipline in schools

The Education Select Committee asked how to support and reinforce positive behaviour in schools and wanted to find out more about the nature and level of challenging behaviour by pupils, the impact of such behaviour and how schools managed behaviour and discipline. They were also keen to know how special educational needs can best be recognised in schools’ policies on behaviour and discipline. CSIE stated that every child has a right to mainstream education within their local school – including those said to have special educational needs or those who have emotional or behavioural difficulties, so long as this did not interfere with the education of other children. Schools are inherently failing to uphold the principle of the best interest of the child (as stipulated in the Children Act, 1989 and The UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, 1989 and other pieces of legislation) when they temporarily or permanently exclude students on the grounds of behaviour or special educational needs. CSIE argued that educational provision needs to be re-organised and its delivery changed so that students are not temporarily or permanently excluded after highlighting the damage that such exclusions cause. CSIE recommends that schools work towards reducing and then eliminating all exclusions through support and interventions in teaching and learning arrangements. Schools may support and reinforce positive behaviour by valuing all members of their community equally and through treating every person in the school community as simultaneously a learner and a teacher. Rather than speaking of special educational needs and singling out individual children as misbehaving CSIE recommends that schools identify what barriers exist to all young people’s learning. In this way schools may ensure that provision is suitable for all learners. CSIE recommends that schools engage with their students in this work and involve young people in systems of peer support, mediation and conciliation.

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September 2010

The extent of sex discrimination in access to compulsory education in the UK - CSIE response to consultation for the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities

CSIE believes that hidden discrimination in access to compulsory education is an issue in the UK. We take access to compulsory education to mean inclusive provision for children of all genders, at all levels of their school life. This includes children and young people who may challenge ‘conventional’ ideas of gender (including children who may identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, genderqueer, gender questioning, gender variant and transsexual, as well as supposedly masculine girls and supposedly feminine boys). We believe that these groups of young people suffer not only direct discrimination and abuse within school but also indirect discrimination through being invisibilised. CSIE recognises that enforcing equalities legislation can prove challenging and recognise that many young people themselves, as well as some teachers, have deeply entrenched ideas of acceptable behaviour and aspirations that differ depending on gender identity. CSIE suggests that schools speak about gender broadly, and in depth, at all levels of school life in order that young people may become what could be called ‘gender aware,’ and thus capable of recognising, responding to and preventing gender based discrimination in all of its forms (for example, biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexism and misogyny). We believe that sex discrimination legislation needs to be understood more broadly as concerning the rights of people of all genders and see the consistent reduction of anti-sex discrimination initiatives into male/female binaries as failing to protect young people who may identify their gender in different ways. Until this wider remit is fully grasped sex-discrimination legislation is ostensibly unfit for purpose. We are delighted that the 2010 Single Equality Act, for the first time, offers legal protection to students who identify as transsexual but are keen that this narrow definition is also broadened.

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March 2010

CSIE response to the Ofsted consultation on its Draft Single Equality Scheme

In its response, CSIE welcomed the goals that Ofsted has set itself around equality objectives. We added, however, that it is important to ensure that concrete data on life outcomes (social and economic) should be available to inspectors and used to inform their evaluation of schools and colleges; that with respect to outcomes there should be a fully detailed breakdown of categories within each equality strand (e.g. within “BME” or within “disabled”); that structures should be in place to prevent the emergence of a hierarchy of equalities in which one strand is more important than another; that children and young people with high level support needs (for example those said to have profound and multiple learning difficulties), mental health problems, NEETs etc. are not exempted from the equality duty to remove barriers (“all means all”); and that structures are in place to ensure that these are the shared perceptions and explicitly articulated values of all within the organisation.

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January 2010

CSIE response to Salt Review (Independent Review of Teacher Supply for Pupils with Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties)

The crisis in teacher supply and training for children identified with SLD and PMLD is part of a larger crisis in the system, namely the poor life outcomes that are inseparable from the continuing existence of segregated schools. Present practices in teacher training and pupil assessment for this group are not related to the general aims of government policy on inclusion and equality for adults.

Children identified with SLD and PMLD are a part of ordinary life, and should therefore be a normal part of their local mainstream school, not the object of a separate pathology. The proposal to develop SLD schools as leaders in training is vitiated by the medical model on which segregation is based; these schools are not well positioned to help young people to have ordinary lives. “Best practice” in SLD and PMLD requires that teacher training be based, not on assessment relating to conventional attainment targets which these very children are (by definition) unlikely to reach, but on person-centred planning, i.e. on enabling children and their families to identify the things that are important to them. The particular expertise then required is that which is most relevant to helping them achieve those things.

The need for expert teachers in sufficient numbers, identified in the call for the Review, does not exist in isolation from the need for a strategy to develop expertise right across the workforce. Experience gathered from thirty years of inclusive schooling has demonstrated that SEN training is not a necessary qualification for good teaching, and that the best teachers of children in mainstream settings are those who are the best teachers overall. To help children and their families achieve the “ordinary lives” that are the aim of cross-governmental policy for adults, teacher supply and training should be re-modelled on the basis of person-centred assessments and plans, in mainstream settings.

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Page last updated: Sunday 23 February 2020

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