11 October 2006
GOVERNMENT'S SEN RESPONSE 'INADEQUATE'
The Government's response to the report by the Education and Skills Comittee on Special Educational Needs has been branded 'inadequate' by Committee Chairman Barry Sheerman.
He said "I am extremely disappointed with the Government's response to our report., as on a number of significant issues it does not accurately portray recommendations that we made. For example, we recommended that the link between assessment of needs and funding should be broken, and that any revision of the system overall should take this principle on board. In response, the Government claims that we recommended a new quango to deal with statementing, which we did not do, and then uses this misrepresentation of our position to avoid engaging with other aspects of the report.
"In our report we asked the Government to give careful thought to our recommendations and consider a completely fresh approach to SEN, and said that we looked forward to constructive progress for children with SEN.
"The statement of Government priorities in the reply is welcome, particularly its commitment to invest in and improve the workforce and to require a diverse range of high-quality provision across all local authorities.
"However, the Government's failure to even consider changing the current statementing process is a real missed opportunity. Despite clear evidence that the process is not working as it should, the Government relies on the argument that 'no-one has a better alternative'. This is not acceptable. If the system is not working properly it is the Government's duty to look for a better way forward.
"We look forward to the debate on our report which is to be held in the Commons on 26 October, when I expect the Minister to give a more considered response'.