Baroness Warnock will tomorrow (Thursday 24th November 2005) address the ISC Special Educational Needs Conference to be held at The Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD.
Baroness Warnock will outline the changes in educational policy since the 1981 Education Act, dwelling on the fact that Statements of Need, entailing a statutory duty on an LEA to provide, were to be for only the most severe learning difficulties to ensure that children who suffered them did not have to endure a situation where nothing was provided, as had been the case. ‘SEN', though, became a catch-all phrase, implying that all children so categorised could be treated in the same way. This has been disastrous, she will argue. The Statement has been expensive, bureaucratic and the cause of conflict between parents and LEAs at the expense of the child. She will reflect on the lack of firm criteria for the issuing of statements.
The Baroness will argue for a radical rethink of the role of the Statement so that, in future, statements will be thought of as ‘passports' to special schools where this is the environment that will best cater for their needs, even if this conflicts with the Government's declared policy on inclusion: "It is time to rethink the role of Special Schools. I know this fits uneasily with the 2001 Act which gives a legal entitlement, with some exceptions, to a place at a mainstream school, on pain of falling foul of the Disability Discrimination Act. The 2001 Act presupposes that inclusion is the outcome that everyone prefers but there is mounting evidence that indiscriminate inclusion is not working."