2018-06-08

Closing the gap for SEND – New Thinking is Needed Now

Sonia Blandford shares insights on narrowing the gap for SEND pupils

At Achievement for All we have developed, in partnership with others across education, business and the third sector, a collaborative Every Child Included in Education manifesto that challenges parliamentarians, funders and decision makers to improve the outcomes of every child across every phase of education, in the workplace and in life.

The five priorities outlined in the manifesto can be viewed here. This includes a focus on reducing children and young people being excluded in education and closing the gap for SEND, too often the marginalised and forgotten group.

We must take action including:

  • Having a continued focus on eradicating bullying particularly to support those with SEND who are at a statistically increased risk of discrimination. We need to ensure that settings and schools have strategies available to them to support all children and young people who are suffering as a result of bullying, as well as their families.
  • Making training on SEND/disadvantaged children, and the different ways they learn, compulsory for all teachers and support professionals. Education providers who achieve the best outcomes for their pupils/students with SEND have high aspirations for their learning and focus on enabling them to become as independent as possible.
  • Narrowing the gap between the progress of SEND children and non-SEND children with a clear focus on what works. Achievement for All’s programme has already been proven to increase rates of progress for SEND pupils across the UK.
  • Interrogating pupil data frequently and rigorously to improve both the progress and attainment of children and young people on SEN Support. This is of particular importance to those whose prior attainment is somewhere in the middle – often an underachieving group in schools.
  • Supporting and offering training for professionals to transform outcomes for young people who offend,or are at risk of doing so, and who have SEND.

Until we get this right, those with SEND who require support will at best, not reach their full potential and at worst risk being permanently excluded from school and society.

Professor Sonia Blandford is one of the country’s foremost experts on social mobility and author of the influential publication: ‘Born to Fail? Social Mobility, A Working Class View’.

 Founder and CEO of the award winning education charity, Achievement for All (https://afaeducation.org), Sonia is also visiting professor of education at UCL Institute of Education. She was named in Debrett’s list of the Top 500 Most Influential People in the UK in 2015 and 2016 and was among the 2016 Women of the Year.

 Follow Sonia on Twitter at @SoniaAFA3AS

To hear from Sonia Blandford and many more speakers including the Department for Education (DfE) and NASEN join us at The SEND Conference 2018 on Thursday 21st June 2018 in Central London.