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Academies - A Hot Air Balloon?

July 11th, 2010

Hansard 7 July 2010:

Q7. [6252] Mr Robert Buckland (South Swindon) (Con): Will my right hon. friend give an assurance that all new academies that will be set up will be obliged to accept children with special educational needs?

The Prime Minister: I can absolutely give my hon. friend that assurance. Academies will be required to ensure that pupils with special educational needs are admitted on the same basis as other schools. Children with special educational needs have special needs, and a compassionate, decent and tolerant country will ensure that they get the help, support, education and love that they need.

Do these words reassure you? Do they ring true in the real world outside Parliament? Do they ring true in the classrooms of the real world outside cloistered academia?
Let me remind you what the law 8 states that society must provide:
Clause 1 (3), 2001 SEN Act: ‘If a statement is maintained under section 324 for the child, he must be educated in a mainstream school unless that is incompatible with – (a) the wishes of his parent, or (b) the provision of efficient education for other children.’

Times Law Reports, July 28,2000. states: The House of Lords ruled that LEA’s duty of care required them to ‘have to take reasonable care of their health and safety including the monitoring of their needs and performance.’

Here are some questions someone might care to put to the Prime Minister.
1. Yes, Academies will admit children with special needs, but will they provide education that is appropriate to the needs of children with special needs? Will they have ring-fenced funding? Will trained professionals be around with time to give them? And will this be done without prejudicing the rights of children without special needs to receive education that is appropriate to them?

2. Will other mainstream schools in a period of austerity be able to meet those needs?

3. And the question those wedded to the dogma of inclusion never think about asking, do they? If parents find that the needs of their children are not being met in mainstream schools and want to assert their statutory right to opt out of them, will there be special schools around that can provide that ‘appropriate’ provision that they can opt into?