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Kathryn

New Academies

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Kathryn   

The government has proposed that any primary or secondary school should be allowed to become an Academy, thus opting out of local authority control and having greater freedom to manage its own affairs.

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/10159448.stm

 

This could disadvantage many pupils, especially those with SEN.

 

Reasons to oppose them:

 

They do not have to adhere to education law, resulting in fewer rights for parents and pupils. The sponsor has ultimate control over the school and assets, and can appoint the majority of governors (only one parent and one staff governor have to be appointed). Complaints procedures may be flawed and biased.

 

They do not have to follow the government guidance on exclusions, possibly resulting in more exclusions for children with challenging behaviour, and fewer rights, especially as Academies strive to improve/maintain their reputation, compete with other schools and produce results. It has already been shown that Academies exclude more children. It may be more difficult to get Academies to accept pupils with a previous history of challenging behaviour.

 

Academies function as independent schools with regard to SEN. A parent has the right to ask for an LA maintained school to be named in a statement and the LA or SEND can direct a maintained school to take a child. However, just as with a fully independent school, a parent has no right to ask for an Academy to be named in a statement, neither can a SEND tribunal force an Academy to take a child. The only route of appeal is via a complicated and flawed process involving the Secretary of State and posibly judicial review if this fails. This has not been shown to be effective so far. This means Academies can effectively obstruct the admission of pupils with SEN.

 

Heads will have a great deal more power thn they already do, more control over their budget and will be able to buy in the services they want. What priority will they give to SEN?

 

For those schools which are left out in the cold and do not become Academies, what resources can they expect from a shrunken LA for pupils with SEN?

 

Whatever your view of the overall plan to allow more free schools and academies, if you have any connection with a maintained school which proposes to become an Academy, it would be wise to ask serious questions about every aspect of its governance, including how it proposes to safeguard the rights of its most vulnerable pupils.

 

Thoughts?

 

K x

Edited by Kathryn

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pretty much all the schools round me are already holding academy status so wouldn't make much difference I don't think and those that don't have it are the failing school nobody wants to attend, so they are striving to gain academy status

 

DD1 attends an art academy

DD2 will be attending a sports academy in September

 

But then we still have the 11+ test here where the top 25% taught to take the test go to grammar schools which are single sex

 

Have not heard of many exclusions from any of the schools and I do have a fair bit of involvement with the schools / parents and children due to my job

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babnye1   

Also, LAs have no power to enforce the provision on statements - the only recourse is for the LA to request that the Secretary of State use their powers under the funding agreement with the academy. Imagine trying to get that sorted as a parent.

 

This is very bad news. As a parent of a child with SEN whose son has been ignored without rigorous fighting at his 'outstanding' school, I am very worried. My son's school is just the sort of school to apply for that status too.

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coolblue   

Our LA complains that it can't compel schools to do anything as it is. Schools with increased independence will simply cherry-pick pupils likely to do well academically and children with SEN will fall through the gaps as they always have.

 

There seems to be a very prevalent view amongst politicians of all persuasions that what you need for all children to do 'well' is 'good' teaching. Few of them seem to be wondering what might be stopping some children from doing well, or what good teaching actually means in practice.

 

cb

 

 

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jollypig   

my daughters school became an Academy Jan 1st and its been a disaster for us , she has SEN and it is all about money , when i go to meetings they are almost blaming her for her problems ie she forgets to ask for help [a] she has cognative/memory issues she is being asessed for ASD. Luckily for us she will move to a special school soon .

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chris54   

I'm not in anyway supporting the idea of Academies.

Our only secondary school option local is a Grammar or an Academe.

So if you dont pass the 11+ it the Academe. Their admissions policy, top of the list come children in care, second come children with a statement of SENs, if it is oversubscribed children living nearest get first chance.

 

I have no idea yet what its SENs provision is like, am going to see the SENs manager after half term.

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KezT   

and just to bring a little more cheer this morning....

 

the £311million that LAs are expectedto cut from their education budgets is supposed to come from school transport, 1:1 and schools budgets not including teachers: that would be the SEN budget then!

 

 

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babnye1   
and just to bring a little more cheer this morning....

 

the £311million that LAs are expectedto cut from their education budgets is supposed to come from school transport, 1:1 and schools budgets not including teachers: that would be the SEN budget then!

 

Kez, have you got a link for that? I'd like to read about it.

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KezT   
Kez, have you got a link for that? I'd like to read about it.

 

I saw small bit on the BBBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/10146380.stm

 

The core spending on schools is to be protected for one year - but there will be £311m cuts to the funding given by the government to local authorities for education.

 

This covers services such as school transport - and will mean local authorities cutting education services or else finding savings from other budgets.

 

...

 

There are a raft of other cuts from school projects - including £47m from one-to-one tuition, £60m from diplomas and other vocational qualifications, £1m from the School Food Trust and £40m from "Every Child" schemes, such as Every Child a Writer.

 

the Times online referred to this too. not sure if any in depth analysis has been done yet......

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jollypig   

it doesnt say sen transport , our local academy has 3 double decker buses to/from school every day presumably it would be this type of service that would be 1st to go .some kids use the bus from my home area which is about a 10 minute walk to school ! all the kids are within the catchment area .

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Sally44   

It is all very worrying.

What I personally would like to see would be that children do get an amount of funding that goes with the child. In that way a school that has enough similar children could find themselves in a position where they have enough funding for a SALT and even OT to be based at that school.

The situation with academies does not sound good. But in my own situation it is not relevant (I don't mean that to sound like therefore I don't care - just that I am not a fan of inclusion in the way that inclusion is currently sold).

I would love this to be a time of opportunity where likeminded parents/children could become the majority of pupils within schools. Hopefully if funding goes with the child that could mean some schools find themselves better off from an SEN point of view.

But this is all conjecture, as we do not know anything about the changes yet. All we know is that there will be lots of cuts.

I wonder what, if anything, the NAS is going about monitoring these changes?

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Sally44   

In my ideal, imaginary, chocolate coated world I imagine schools where there are capable children with AS, ASD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, speech and communication disorders all together. That would be a better model of inclusion and mainstream in my opinion.

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i know everyone has seen this coming like a car crash in slow motion but very hard to deal with consequences as i know growing up with undiagnosed aspergers syndrome but officially diagnosed dyspraxia at 7-8 years old approx my mum forced paetrician i just think it is appauling and disgustful it has to come down to this SEN kids suffering what happens to people like myself that struggles day in day out but can actually see hidden difficulties until look real close we'd get the less support as education system failed me back then what about kids now where they rights left now being taken away again how unfair we made to pay the price! i so annoyed and angry after pain heartache misery i went through and looks like history repeating itself in a big way! they don't care i know money cuts have to come from somewhere! but i find hard to take in! and swallow deep!

 

XKLX

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justine1   

I have mixed feelings on this.First I dont agree for all the things mentioned by others-more selective when it comes to who can go,less money for SEN etc.

Then on the other hand....My NT son would thrive in a special academy particularly an arts/drama one.Two weeks ago I saw a headline about an academy that would be funded and run by Eton college HT and boardmembers,obviousley not the same level of teaching standards but seems positive for "brainy" kids who cannot afford private schooling.

 

So for me personally its a toughie as I got both situations to think about!

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Athena   

I think that this is very bad news for children with SEN.

 

Here is the link to a briefing note produced by ACE

 

It is very worrying! I am going to write to my MP and the NAS to make them aware of the impact on children with SEN and ask them to amend the Bill to make sure that the Academies are accountable and that Statements can be enforced.

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KezT   

its very worrying. I know it would be, but hoped it would take time to implement the changes, but thet are really oushing them through :tearful:

 

makes me wonder if it is even worth the effort of appealing & trying to get DS a Statement if it's not going to be enforceable in any way :wallbash::crying:

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chris54   
it doesnt say sen transport , our local academy has 3 double decker buses to/from school every day presumably it would be this type of service that would be 1st to go .some kids use the bus from my home area which is about a 10 minute walk to school ! all the kids are within the catchment area .

If you live more than 3 miles away from school then you are entitled to free school transport.

 

The school that my now grown up stepchildren went to, served an area so big that over 50% of children went to school on school buses or had a bus pass to use public transport. We are talking something like 500 children a day.

Edited by chris54

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They do not have to follow the government guidance on exclusions, possibly resulting in more exclusions for children with challenging behaviour, and fewer rights, especially as Academies strive to improve/maintain their reputation, compete with other schools and produce results. It has already been shown that Academies exclude more children. It may be more difficult to get Academies to accept pupils with a previous history of challenging behaviour.

 

My son use to go to an academy and he failed and they couldn't meet his needs even with a statement-they excluded him all the time and even tried to break the law until my PP lady told them otherwise!!! Parents in my area have been rallying together to stop other schools becoming academies!!!

 

 

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Athena   

I don't think that we can reasonable stop schools becoming Academies, as this is now clearly Government policy, even if we don't agree with it.

 

What we need to do is to ensure that the Academies Bill protects the rights of children with SEN, in terms of admissions, responsibility for ensuring the provision in a Statement is provided, right of appeal to SENDIST, accountability to some form of higher authority for complaints against the school.

 

I just don't think that the Government have thought this one through!!

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chris54   
I don't think that we can reasonable stop schools becoming Academies, as this is now clearly Government policy, even if we don't agree with it.

As I understand it it will be up to the school, by that I assume they mean the board of governors if a school becomes an academy. If anyone feel really strong enough about it, next time there is a vacancy on the board of governors at your child's school , stand and try to get your self elected, and then you can work against change from the inside.

 

An acquaintance of mine did just that because she was not happy with the SEN provision at her sons school. There were some objections, it was felt by some that she had a vested interest as her son has SEN, but then dont all parent governors have a vested interest.

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jollypig   
If you live more than 3 miles away from school then you are entitled to free school transport.

 

The school that my now grown up stepchildren went to, served an area so big that over 50% of children went to school on school buses or had a bus pass to use public transport. We are talking something like 500 children a day.

 

 

i live approx 1/2 a mile from school , theres no need for kids that close to need transport . if it was sorted out then maybe they could drop to 2 or even 1 bus .

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we have freedom passes here supplied by the county cvouncil at £50 a year and means any child can get on public transport to and from school. DD1 has one but her school is 10 miles away as we opted to send her there we have to fund transport

 

DD2 will go to a school 2 miles away in sept but will get a pass too as the journey is not safe by foot

 

The school does not provide these buses they are general day to day services run by arriva

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chris54   
The school does not provide these buses they are general day to day services run by arriva

That is fine when bus route runs to and from where school is, if school is out of the way, not on a bus route that would not work. Or if there is not bus route near to where you live. There will always be some children that there is no other option other than for a school bus/taxi to get to school.

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That is fine when bus route runs to and from where school is, if school is out of the way, not on a bus route that would not work. Or if there is not bus route near to where you live. There will always be some children that there is no other option other than for a school bus/taxi to get to school.

 

 

absolutely there will always be a need, however I was trying to explain the reason why children who live next to a school may use a bus service if a similar scheme is operated in other areas

 

btw DD2 will have to catch 2 buses to / from school making a 2 mile journey a 5 mile journey as there is no direct service nor is there a school bus from where we live

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Sally44   

I think parents need options.

SEN provision should go with the child and it should be ring fenced wherever they are placed and there should be sound accountable procedures to follow if a school is not meeting the needs of an SEN pupil or providing the provison that is ring fenced for them.

Some SEN children will do well at mainstream schools whether they are academies or not. Others won't.

If the structure of academies is a round hole and my son is a square peg, then I want him in the square peg school. Trouble is there aren't any of them at the moment.

 

I've recently written off a letter to the minster and included the link from a previous thread that was an article in the independent on sunday, about these very issues.

 

I think the current system we have is not a particularly good one. As the Lamb and Rose reports said, professionals feel their hands are tied and cannot make recommendations that are over and above what their employers (the LEA) provides. The Lamb report said he had come across some of the angriest parents he has ever met.

 

Most SEND tribunals are from parents who are seeking independent schools with professionals on site and a peer group similar to their child. That is fact. Most LEAs are funding a number of children in those independent schools. If those same LEAs actually provided a mainstream special school with SALT and OT on site with specialist teachers, then it would save us all alot of time and money.

 

The Minister for Education did say in the independent on sunday article that SEN funding was not an area the government was looking to to make savings. That is something we can keep reminding him of.

 

But it is a very uncertain time for anyone in the Statementing and tribunal process at this very moment.

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Kathryn   
I don't think that we can reasonable stop schools becoming Academies, as this is now clearly Government policy, even if we don't agree with it.

 

What we need to do is to ensure that the Academies Bill protects the rights of children with SEN, in terms of admissions, responsibility for ensuring the provision in a Statement is provided, right of appeal to SENDIST, accountability to some form of higher authority for complaints against the school.

 

I just don't think that the Government have thought this one through!!

 

There have been successful local campaigns to stop particular schools becoming academies.

 

http://www.antiacademies.org.uk/

 

Even with the older academies, the consultation process was flawed. With this new fast track process, in my opinion it's quite likely that many schools will morph into academies without parents or the local community even being aware that it's happening. :wacko: Just as with ordinary community schools, there are successful academies around, some that are failing, and others in between.

 

What many parents don't realise is that academies (i.e. heads and governors) can pretty much do their own thing, and private sponsors hold the reins. One would hope that all heads and governors would have the best interests of all the pupils at heart but as we all know, there are some who seem to be on another planet. Would you want to give them more power than they already have by taking away the safeguards that are in place?

 

Academies are not required to adhere to government guidance, so it's important to scrutinise individual funding agreements ( i.e. the contract between the government and the adademy), to see what the school's policies are. These funding agreements are not usually made readily available, so parents have to take the initiative in finding out what they contain.

 

K x

 

 

 

 

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jollypig   

there was almost no consultation when my dds comp became an Acadamy. children were given the 1st lot of uniform free but i think that was more to placate [sp] the parents as many like myself had just bought new uniform in september unaware that everything would change jan 1st.

 

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Athena   

The first reading for this bill was on 26th May in the House of Lords.

 

The second reading for this Bill is 7th June 2010, so they really are pushing it through at speed!

 

We need to get campaigning FAST!!!

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Athena   

It doesn't say much at all in the Bill about Special Educational Needs!!

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This is from Michael Gove's website. It's quite chilling in an SEN context: http://www.michaelgove.com/content/compreh...state_education

 

So, just as we will do everything it takes to improve teacher quality we will use every tool we can to resolve the behaviour and discipline problems in our schools.

 

We will give teachers the powers and protection they need.

 

We will make it easier for teachers to remove violent and disruptive pupils from class without fear of legal action. We will replace the current “Use of Force Guidance” which imposes many restrictions on teachers and discourages them from removing disruptive children from the classroom.

 

The presumption will be that teachers should not be suspended unless there is a clear prima facie case for disciplinary action or criminal charges. If no disciplinary action or criminal charges have been brought within a month, the case will be automatically dropped. Any disciplinary action will have to be completed within one month or abandoned. Teachers will have the right to anonymity during an investigation. Police and courts must recognise that the protection of children requires a strong teaching profession that is free from fear of perpetual investigations.

 

We will give headteachers a general legal power to ban, search for, and confiscate any items they think may cause violence or disruption (which the Government opposes on ‘human rights’ grounds). We will reverse the legal obligation on teachers to prove that their search and confiscation is legal. We will abolish the Guidance whereby the Government “strongly advises” teachers not to search children if they object to being searched.

 

We will abolish the legal requirement of 24 hours’ legal notice for detentions so that bad behaviour can be punished with detention the same day.

 

We will have “no notice” Ofsted inspections so that inspectors can investigate schools with serious behaviour problems.

 

Any school with persistent serious bad behaviour that the headteacher cannot sort out will have its leadership replaced.

 

We will end the right to appeal against exclusion to independent panels, which have sent children expelled for knife crime back to the school from which they were expelled. There will be a right of appeal to the Governors only and this must be completed within one month. We will abolish the Government’s new rules forcing good schools to take pupils expelled from bad ones (“one in, one out”). We will abolish the rules which impose a financial penalty on schools that expel children.

 

I’m not going to apologise for the brisk and no-nonsense approach we’ll take to discipline. Frankly, this is one area where the more consistent the message the better. We’re on the side of teachers, we’re determined to restore order and we’re not going to be deflected from laying down lines which the badly behaved must not cross.

 

But just as we need to be clear about the need for order we also need to be clear about the pressing, urgent, need to improve provision for those disruptive, difficult and damaged children who need special help.

 

We need to radically improve the environment in which disruptive and excluded pupils are educated and we will ensure that those organisations with a proven track record in turning young lives round are given the opportunity to do more, through reforms to Pupil Referral Units and the creation of new Boarding Academies. We want to see every young person given the chance to get their life back on track and the opportunity to secure meaningful qualifications.

Edited by Yossarian

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Canopus   
They do not have to follow the government guidance on exclusions, possibly resulting in more exclusions for children with challenging behaviour, and fewer rights, especially as Academies strive to improve/maintain their reputation, compete with other schools and produce results. It has already been shown that Academies exclude more children. It may be more difficult to get Academies to accept pupils with a previous history of challenging behaviour.

 

It all boils down to image and reputation. Many academies will be loathe to take kids with any issues that are perceived to tarnish their image and reputation including kids that have SEN; are seen as weird or have weird interests; wear scruffy or unfashionable clothes; lack the social skills and finesse of high society (like not knowing one brand of champagne from another); have parents in unenviable occupations; or live in bad neighbourhoods.

 

For those schools which are left out in the cold and do not become Academies, what resources can they expect from a shrunken LA for pupils with SEN?

 

My bet is that each LA will have a few 'dustbin schools' that will be used to contain the 'square pegs' and those simply unwanted by the academies. These schools will contain a potentially explosive mixture of kids ranging from those with unusual types of SEN to nasty yobs and thugs, and are likely to offer a poorer quality of education than a typical secondary school along with a restricted range of qualifications.

 

Our LA complains that it can't compel schools to do anything as it is. Schools with increased independence will simply cherry-pick pupils likely to do well academically and children with SEN will fall through the gaps as they always have.

 

Not just do well academically. Many kids with AS are capable of doing well academically. Behaving well and 'fitting in' will be viewed as equally important issues by most academies.

 

In my ideal, imaginary, chocolate coated world I imagine schools where there are capable children with AS, ASD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, speech and communication disorders all together. That would be a better model of inclusion and mainstream in my opinion.

 

Ideally yes. The trouble is that too many schools for kids with SEN do not cater for high abilities, and too many schools for kids with high abilities do not cater for SEN.

 

I would love this to be a time of opportunity where likeminded parents/children could become the majority of pupils within schools. Hopefully if funding goes with the child that could mean some schools find themselves better off from an SEN point of view.

 

I'm wondering if the move towards academies will lead to a rise in home education of kids with SEN, or families clubbing together to establish their own SEN schools.

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dana   

I am not sure about the whole thing about academies.

 

I think it will depend on the headteachers. There is a danger indeed that the academies will more care about their image and use their new fredom to exclude disruptive pupils more often but I found that even now the schools do the same thing and everything depends on their head teachers.

 

My son (who has the statement) got a place in the Academy which has Enhance Recourse Center, has 20 children with ASD, a special room they can go during the breaks where they can relax (and hide from bullies). He will have 5 TAs (each day a different one) and they are trained in ASD. The Academy has a lot of personel and the head teacher said that he prefares to spend money on the staff rather than things. They got the money to build the new building alltogether in 2012 and SEN department will have a separate garden for their children if they want to go to during the breaks. The SENCO promissed that my son will be taken 5 minutes earlier from the lessons (to avoid the bells and the crouds during the lesson change, he is sensitive to noise). Everything sounds very nice but I wonder if all this will really be like that in practise. I was also told that instead of excluding children they rather send them to the separate room where they have to work harder. However, I heard from the parent whose child has AS that he is still often excluded from this Academy.

 

I wonder why nobody reacted to this in the Green paper stage when it was possible to do something more about it? How did this bill about Academies came to the second reading already without any protests at all?

 

Danaxxx

Edited by dana

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babnye1   

The Gov has been in only two weeks and couldn't do anything before Parliament reassembled this Wednesday. There has been no Green Paper/White Paper. It's gone straight to draft Bill form in the HL this week. However, it then goes to second reading, to committee stage, to third reading and then on to the HC for its first reading. The Gov are fast-tracking bills they see as a priority while they have a coalition that can get them through - who knows whether they'd be able to do it in 6 months time.

 

There is limited time to dispute it but it was not possible to dispute it before it was introduced this week

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Kathryn   

The first Academies are expected to be up and running by September - precious little time for scrutiny.

 

K x

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babnye1   

Precisely. If Gove doesn't get it through this Sept, who knows if they'll be in power by next! The pressure is on to get this through asap.

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jollypig   

"The SENCO promissed that my son will be taken 5 minutes earlier from the lessons (to avoid the bells and the crouds during the lesson change, he is sensitive to noise). Everything sounds very nice but I wonder if all this will really be like that in practise. "

 

dana- i have this in writing for my daughter and it just doesnt happen i was told she would have to get used to it just like everyone else ! i have a meeting next week to "vent " as a lot of things that she has written on the statmenting paperwork are complete lies.

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