Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Calling all young people at school!

We want to hear from children and young people about what you think about school. We want to know what you like and dislike about school and how you think it could be better.

If you are 19 or younger and are on the autism spectrum and still at school, you can fill out our survey by clicking here.

The survey is open until the end of Wednesday 6th April.

We will use the findings of the survey to help us to campaign to improve education provision for children and young people with autism and tell the Government what you think about school and about their proposals to change the SEN system.  We will publish a report later in the year containing the findings of our research.

We also have a survey of parents of children and young people with autism which is available to members of the NAS.  To join the NAS follow this link: http://www.autism.org.uk/en-gb/get-involved/become-member.aspx

Thursday, March 10, 2011

SEN Green Paper Published

The National Autistic Society has welcomed the ambitions set out in Government’s Green Paper Support and aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability. 

The Green Paper sets out the Government’s proposals for reforming the education system for children with special educational needs (SEN). The Government wants to hear your views on the plans. See below on how you can have your say.

The National Autistic Society will be looking carefully at the proposals and consulting with its members and others to respond. We will also be launching a mini report on how the SEN system should work for children with autism in the summer. Watch this space for more details.

Below is a summary of some of the key points from the Green Paper.

Early identification and assessment
The Government proposes replacing statements of SEN with ‘Education, Health and Care Plans’, which would be determined through a single assessment.

The Government has said that these plans will provide the same statutory protection to parents as statements and that these plans will be for children with SEN or a disability from birth until the age of 25.

How the assessment for these plans and how the plans themselves are to work will be piloted from September. The National Autistic Society is keen to see how the proposal will work in practice and how the Government will ensure that the same legal protections are in place. The Government have said that replacing statements with the new plans will not happen until 2014.

The paper also talks about ensuring that children with SEN are picked up earlier. We have been calling for an early identification check to ensure that children with autism can be identified at an early stage and so we are keen to work further with Government on this.

Giving Parents Control
The Green Paper stresses the importance of consulting and involved in decisions concerning their child’s needs. It makes the following proposals:
  • Local authorities and other services to set out a local offer of all services available
  • The option of a ‘Personal Budget’ by 2014 for all families with children with a statement of SEN or a new ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’ to give parents greater choice over the services their child receives. This is to be piloted first
  • Parents to be given a clear choice of school, including mainstream, special, academies and free schools.
  • Parents to continue to have access to a short break from caring while their child enjoys activities with their peers.
  • If local authorities and parents disagree, mediation is tried first, before going to a tribunal.
Learning and achieving
This section has a welcome focus on the importance of improving the support teachers have to ensure that they can identify and appropriately help children with SEN.

The National Autistic Society has been calling for initial teacher training to include autism as well as for schools to be able to access support from specialist autism teachers across clusters of schools.

In line with this, the Green Paper sets out:
  • Funding will be available for scholarships and continuing professional development for teachers developing skills in supporting children with SEN
  • The Government will help local networks of schools develop teachers with specialist skills and knowledge who can be deployed across local clusters of schools
  • The Training and Development Agency will make sure that online materials for teachers on autism are widely available
  • Special Schools will be expected to share their expertise and services to support the education and progress and development of pupils in other special and mainstream schools.
  • Outstanding special schools will be able to apply to become Teaching Schools, and more teachers will do initial training in special schools
The paper also says that parents and communities are encouraged to establish new special free schools.

Preparing for adulthood
A significant proposal in the Green Paper is the extension of the Education, Health and Care Plans, which are to replace statements for young people up to the age of 25.

The Green Paper also highlights the importance of ensuring that young people with a disability are supported into work and that work experience is made available for them.

Further detail about the Governments plans for improving transition will be published later this year. The Government says that it wants to ensure that by 2015 disabled young people and young people with SEN will have:
  • early and well integrated support for and advice on the birth to 25 single assessment process.
  • access to better quality vocational and work related learning opportunities to enable young people to progress in their learning post 16.
  • good opportunities and support in order to get and keep a job
  • a well co-ordained transition from children’s to adult health services
Services Working Together for Families
Joint working across health, social care and education is a strong focus in the Green Paper.

The Government proposes that local authorities play a pivotal role in ensuring the co-ordination in support for children with SEN, both on an individual level and on a strategic planning level.

There are also proposals to fund training for key workers and to review the training for speech and language therapists and educational psychologists.

The Chapter also states that the Government will look at how best to co-ordinate services once the GP consortia are in place and new Health and Wellbeing Boards are given responsibility for planning local services.

Have your say
The Government wants to hear what you think of the proposals. You can respond online at www.education.gov.uk/consultations or emailed to send.greenpaper@education.gsi.gov.uk, or by downloading a response form which should be completed and sent to:

Consultation Unit
Department for Education
Area 1C, Castle View House
East Lane
Runcorn WA7 2GJ

Please also let us know what you think by commenting in the box below or by emailing policy@nas.org.uk

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Ideal School

The Guardian is asking children for their views on what would make an ideal school.

They will be compiling the responses to write a Children's Manifesto.

Ahead of the SEN Green Paper, now due this month, the NAS is keen for children with autism to get involved.

Please email school.i'd.like@guardian.co.uk with your ideas on what would make an ideal school by 4th March giving your name, age, year, school and phone number.

Please also email policy@nas.org.uk with your ideas or comment in the space below, as this will help us with our work on the SEN Green Paper.