The government is investigating the idea of a new regulator of special educational needs

According to a report in CYP Now the government is considering launching a new regulatory unit for overseeing both special educational needs and mental health provision.  These proposals were initially given a trial run in Manchester, and there is the thought that they can be rolled out across England.

The initial proposal comes from Great Minds Together which was initially set up to teach children Life Skills as After School and Holiday Clubs across Manchester works with schools, families and local authorities.  The Education Select Committee is considering the proposals.

The founders of the organisation have been asked to brief the select committee of MPs on their work and develop a policy paper for the committee. 

It has been reported that within the trial over 150 families with children with special needs were engaged, and there was a total success rate in re-engagement of pupils with formal education as well as improvement in children’s engagement, learning and attainment.

The select committee has indicated that it wants a SEND watchdog to work independently of Ofsted and the Department for Education.

Ian Mearns, a member of the previous select committee, said that, “There is a crisis in the provision of SEND and SEMH across our fractured education system. The report in the last parliament from the education select committee raised a number of key conclusions and recommendations to address the current state of affairs; including the need for a focused, rigorous and regular inspection process for SEND and SEMH providers.

“I have met with Great Minds Together on a number of occasions and have read the ideas and proposals contained within their manifesto, including the framework for an inspection and resolution service.

"The manifesto is an excellent contribution to the policy development discourse, and I wholeheartedly support the principles which underpin their proposals. I have invited Great Minds to produce a policy paper for wider discussion, which will hopefully act as a catalyst for debate on this incredibly important issue.

Great Minds Together have proposed the ring-fencing of government funds for SEND and the abolition of council procurement processes for education and children’s services.

Under their plans, parents will be treated as experts and allowed to write their children’s education, health and care plans.

It is an interesting proposal for special needs which are genetically inherited, such as dyslexia and dyscalculia wherein some parents are indeed very fast to spot the sort of problem that they or their parents had with spelling or mathematics. 

Many schools and parents use the Dyslexia Centre’s online test as a preliminary guide as to whether a child or teenager might be suffering from dyslexia and if so where the specific problems are.   Details of the test when administered in school can be found here.  Details of the test when undertaken at home by the parent of a possibly dyslexic child can be found here.