Specialist SEN Solicitor
17th May 2021
Don’t offer your advice unless you’re specifically asked for it…
Unfortunately, how often does someone tell us about a problem that they are having, or we find ourselves discussing something that has caught our attention in the news, do we start to offer our perspective or advice, without being asked for it.
This often makes a difficult situation much worse than it has to be; for example, because the other person was just wanting to get something off their chest and confide in us, or because the difficult situation that we have identified is actually a very complicated one and our simplistic and often ill-thought out answer is way off the mark, as it only sees things from one perspective. Things are not always what they seem, or just because you haven't seen something, doesn't mean that it hasn't happened.
Or you can be interpreted as taking sides if there is an argument, which might well curry favour with the person you seem to be siding with, but may then lose you all credibility with the person on the other side of the argument, or other people who are watching from the sidelines. There will be a perception of 'bias'. I see this all the time I'm afraid, from my position as a lawyer, as there is often not just one 'right' and one 'wrong' in a given situation, but many people on opposite asides of an issue can be both right and wrong on many things (and sometimes even the same thing) at the same time!
But, what I really want to highlight for you today, is the need for you not to feel that you have to offer your advice in every situation, unless you are specifically asked for it. Even then, you need to still first look at things from as many different perspectives as you can, before saying anything. In fact, the less you say sometimes, the better, as the more you say, the more it can be interpreted differently to how you meant it, especially if what you say is taken out of context, or another meaning projected onto it.
So, as I say, be careful and only offer your advice if you are specifically asked for it.
In this week's SEN Update, you will find sections entitled:
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I am going to cheat a little this week, by slipping two things into the first section of this update! One is new, but one is about a month old, but is still worth highlighting.
The new thing is a press release issued by Ofsted, entitled: 'Some pupils with SEND missing out on specialist support':
"A new research report shows that some pupils with SEND in mainstream schools are not getting enough help to support their learning and development.
Some pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) in mainstream schools are not getting enough help to support their learning and development, even when external services are involved, according to a new research report by Ofsted.
Read the Supporting SEND report.
Published today, the study finds that specialist support from multi-agency services often complements the support offered by schools. Although families and school staff value this external support, it is not always timely or implemented appropriately.
Many of the schools and families participating in the research had experienced long wait times and high levels of bureaucracy in the education, health and care (EHC) plan process. In some instances, families were commissioning or paying for additional services themselves. This suggests that the playing field is not level for pupils from poorer backgrounds.
Through different case studies, the research identifies important issues that influence how in-school support, therapies and other multi-agency services are provided for pupils with SEND. The findings include the following."
The other (not so new) thing that I want to refer to is the report entitled: "Forgotten. Left behind.
Overlooked." where the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) recently reported on experiences of young people with SEND.
The best summary I have found is on nasen's website, which reads:
"The All Party Parliamentary group for SEND have issued their report into the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on educational transitions for young people with SEND. The group collated input from oral evidence meetings and written evidence around young people’s mental health and wellbeing and learning. It is quite challenging reading and has shone a spotlight on some of the inequalities within the education system and how Covid-19 amplified these and left young people with SEND feeling like an ‘afterthought’.
The key findings are:
You can read the full report for yourself here.
UPDATED COVID-19 GUIDANCE
I received another email this week from the SEND Division at the Department of Education (DfE), entitled: 'Updated Guidance for SEND and Specialist Settings', which said:
Following the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday regarding the further easing of lockdown restrictions from the 17 May, we have updated our SEND and specialist settings - additional operational guidance: COVID-19.
This guidance should be read alongside the main pieces of guidance for schools and post-16: Schools COVID-19 operational guidance and Further education COVID-19 operational guidance, which have also been updated to reflect the upcoming changes.
Also updated yesterday was the guidance for Early years and childcare providers, Out of school settings and higher education providers
The key changes within the SEND guidance are:
Please see the guidance on the COVID-19 response – Spring 2021 (Roadmap) for additional information.
All Special Schools in England are eligible to access the personal protective equipment (PPE) portal provided by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The PPE portal allows eligible providers to order free PPE on a weekly basis for their Coronavirus (COVID-19) PPE requirements.
Since January 2020, all special schools will have received an email asking them to register with the PPE portal. Those who have not registered will shortly receive another email invitation from firstname.lastname@example.org. This email invitation will be sent to the email address which your setting used to register with the DfE Get Information About Schools Database. This is the only email address which is eligible to register. Please ensure that you have checked your junk folder.
If you have not received the email invitation or would like to change your registered email address, please contact the Customer Service team at 0800 876 6802 who will be able to help support you in registering with the portal.
All other settings should refer to the safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care settings guidance to understand how they can access PPE to meet their Covid needs.
Special Educational Needs and Disability Division"
LATEST NEWS ONLINE
And here are the other news articles that I found of interest:
Pupils in England ‘waiting up to five years for special needs plan’
Helping pupils in England catch up on lost learning will cost £13.5bn – report
Councils in England facing funding gaps plan to cut special needs support
Again, aside from clicking on the relevant links for more information, I would also remind you of the very useful resources and information provided on the following websites:
- Council for Disabled Children
- Special Needs Jungle
I would also highlight again the fact that you can now get a digital copy of the magazine: Autism Eye which is very helpful to any parents or professionals involved with children/young people with Autism.
Keep safe until next week.
With best wishes
P.S I understand that there are many educational items, news articles, or other useful resources on the web, so I would be very grateful if you could let me know of any that you find that you think that others may find useful, so that I can direct people to them.