Local Lib Dem Social Services spokesperson Cllr Wayne Hoban and Education spokesperson Cllr Gail Engert have welcomed calls from educationist Baroness Warnock for the Government to scrap its policy on mainstream schooling for all children with Special Educational Needs (SEN).
The independent life peer, who was one of the original thinkers behind inclusive schooling, is due to have her report published later this month in a pamphlet by the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain.
In it she warns of the “wasteful and bureaucratic” statementing of SEN pupils and says that pressure on mainstream schools to provide support would leave a “disastrous legacy” if left un-addressed.
Councillors Hoban and Engert have been meeting regularly with concerned parents and the local action group, Haringey Autism, who have raised similar concerns. They say that mainstream schools struggle to provide the additional classroom support that many children with autism need. They say this often leads to behavioural issues that can cause the child to be excluded from school.
Haringey Autism have also highlighted the stress involved in getting a child assessed and issued with a statement of education needs as well as ensuring that the school meets those needs.
Both councillors say that the stress levels for many parents have been further compounded by threats to the future of Red Gables family centre which has provided high quality support for many years.
Cllr Engert comments:
“I am delighted that Baroness Warnock is pressing for a radical review of the current situation, which the Lib Dems fully support. It is clear that many parents do not have the confidence that mainstream schools can provide the same level of support for all types of SENs that specialist schools can.”
Cllr Hoban adds:
“It is important that the Government faces up to its misjudgement over this policy. Many children with SENs can benefit from being in a mainstream environment and that should be welcomed, but there is a need for choice, so those who want to remain in a special school environment can do so.”