A reply from the UK Secretary of State’s office

Response from the UK Secretary of State’s office to a query required for my research about the inclusion of children with special educational needs

Because I am not yet permitted to alter any changes to my website “INVISIBLE CHILDREN, The UK’s take on the Inclusion of children with Special Educational Needs”, nor to the related blog SENChildren2010, until October (due to University regulations) I am posting this letter here and will later move it to the research website:

Dear Ms Petrovic

Thank you for your email of 29 June, addressed to the Secretary of State, about the your website on the inclusion of children with special educational needs (SEN), which you are developing as part of your journalism course.  I have been asked to reply.I was interested to read about the research you have carried out so far and understand that you have already received a response from the Department regarding your request for an interview with the Secretary of State.

As you may already be aware, the Department will be launching a Green Paper in the autumn to look at a wide range of issues for children with SEN and disabilities.  We want to make sure that the most vulnerable children get the best quality of support and care.  Children with SEN and disabilities should have the same opportunities as their peers.  The system needs to be more family friendly so that parents don’t feel they have to battle to get the support their child needs.

Creating a more diverse school system with a greater range of schools is designed to raise the achievement of all children, including children with SEN.  Ministers are committed to protecting the interests of children and young people with SEN and improving choice for parents through fair admissions to all types of school, removing the bias towards inclusion and preventing the unnecessary closure of special schools.

We want to look at some of these challenges from the perspective of the child and whole family and consider things like parents’ choice of school place in special and mainstream schools, supporting children and young people to achieve and improve their life chances, and how children and young people are assessed for the support they need.

We will be listening to the views of parents, teachers and organisations with an interest in this area.  Further information will appear on the Department’s website at: www.education.gov.uk/, and we would welcome your comments as part of the consultation process.

You also emailed the Department on 23 July asking about the Government‘s position on Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I am sorry not to have been able to respond in time for your 28 July deadline.
I can confirm that the previous Government ratified the Convention in June 2009 with a reservation and interpretive declaration on Article 24, dealing with education, to recognise that parents of disabled children have the right to state a preference for a special school, rather than a mainstream one, that some complex needs and disabilities may be met in residential special schools and that this is allowed under the Convention.  The present Government has no plans to change this.
Thank you again for writing to the Department and may I take this opportunity to wish you every success for the future.

Yours sincerely

Alison Plummer
Public Communications Unit

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