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Parliament: Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill, Clause 210

parliament.jpgThis debate concerns an amendment to Clause 210 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill 2008-09, around the requirement to for school inspectors to have "training and expertise in special educational needs [SEN]". The debate below happened at the House of Commons Public Bills Committee stage (of parliament), you can read the full debate by following the links.

The proposed amendment to the Bill was introduced by Nick Gibb (Shadow Minister, Children, Schools and Families; Bognor Regis & Littlehampton, Conservative)

I beg to move amendment 79, in clause 210, page 120, line 28, at end insert—

‘(2A) The Chief Inspector may only make an interim statement about a school in England that has provision for children with special educational needs if it has been assessed by an inspector who has training and expertise in special educational needs and has properly engaged with such pupils at that school.’.

.... cont

There's more to this debate, here's the deaf mention:

Nick Gibb (Shadow Minister, Children, Schools and Families; Bognor Regis & Littlehampton, Conservative)

I am afraid that those assurances do not tally with the wording of the amendment, which is:

“The Chief Inspector may only make an interim statement about a school in England that has provision for children with special educational needs if it has been assessed by an inspector who has training and expertise in special educational needs and has properly engaged with such pupils at that school.”

That is the point that concerns the National Deaf Children’s Society. It wants to be sure that when a mainstream school with a unit for children with special educational needs has been categorised as good or outstanding, the inspector makes that judgment based on an assessment that took into account the quality of the SEN provision. I take the Minister’s point that in coming to that overall conclusion, the inspector will have assessed the unit, but I am not convinced that the inspectors carrying out the inspections will always be trained in dealing with the schools’ specific special educational needs. Deafness, for instance, is a low-incidence special educational need.

Given how inspections are carried out under the light-touch inspection regime, I suspect that inspectors will engage very little with pupils in schools. If the number of pupils with special educational needs at a school is small, it is even less likely that the inspector will engage with them. In light of that, unless the Minister wants to respond, I would like to test the Committee’s opinion of amendment 79.

The voting for the amendment was:

Question put, That the amendment be made. The Committee divided: Ayes 3, Noes 8. Voting yes: Nick Gibb, David Laws, Bill Wiggin Voting no: Liz Blackman, Dawn Butler, Mary Creagh, Sharon Hodgson, Jim Knight, Sarah McCarthy-Fry, Siôn Simon, Emily Thornberry Question accordingly negatived.

In other words, the amendment did not pass. The counter argument by the government (Jim Knight), all inspectors will be trained in SEN and will engage with children.

Ask the Readers:
What do you think? Do you think all school inspectors are qualified to inspect schools with deaf children? Do you think there will be effective mechanisms in place for inspectors will engage with deaf children, especially where they use BSL?

Source:
They Work For You
Hansard
Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill 2008-09

Photo source ** Maurice ** under CC.

Comments (1)

From the first off, the consequences could be disastrous and damaging in the long run. If the non-SEN pupils are doing well, then they could be seen as propping up the school's reputation, without any redress of poor quality education being delivered to its SEN pupils. It will become harder to identify any sub-standards teaching in the SEN areas as OFSTED will only report what they found and will present a wrong picture.

Is quality of SEN provision being assessed via another route anyway or is this the only way they are auditing the quality of education by lumping it all under the school name?

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