“The Green Paper was an opportunity to shine a light on the issues facing young people in further education and come up with some radical solutions, but it appears to have been missed.”
Responding to the Government’s SEND and Alternative Provision Green Paper, Clare Howard, Chief Executive of Natspec said,
“I’m pleased that the SEND Green Paper will finally be published today and welcome the government’s intentions to reform what has become a broken system. It is essential that the system becomes fairer, simpler and less conflict-ridden, and from our perspective, these issues are particularly apparent in relation to further education for 16-to-25-year-olds. So it is disappointing that the information released so far does not appear to recognise the needs of young people, nor offer any explicit support for FE.
We support the need to focus on early intervention and recognise the issues that affect children in schools. But many of the challenges faced at the 16-25 end of the system are different from those affecting children and schools. We have worked hard to impress on the government the importance of recognising what’s needed for FE – college capital funding, improved post-education services for young people to prevent the cliff-edge experience of leaving college, investment in specialist careers advisers, the development of a specialist FE workforce – the list goes on. Indeed, we had hoped that the government would commit funding specifically for the FE sector where numbers of students with high needs continue to grow. The Green Paper was an opportunity to shine a light on all of these issues for young people in FE and come up with some radical solutions, but it appears to have been missed.
That said, we very much welcome some of the proposals, such as a standard Education Health and Care Plan template and process which will certainly help reduce bureaucracy. New SEND standards and local inclusion plans also have the potential to lead to a better experience for young people with SEND. We will need to make sure that the proposed national framework for banding and tariffs of High Needs is flexible enough to deal with children and young people with the most complex needs – many of the 6,500 students in specialist FE colleges will not fit neatly into standard categories, especially those with combined education, health and care needs and complex co-morbidities. The devil will most certainly be in the detail in all of these proposals. We are looking forward to digesting the Green Paper in full and working with the government to ensure that the proposals translate into practice that makes a positive difference on the ground.”
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