Friday, 25 June 2010

My own Spending Challenge

Abolish statementing (recording in Scotland)

This morning's posting on the UK's Spending Challenge concluded with the government's challenge to us all to come forward with ideas for possible cost- and efficiency-savings in the public sector, and with my own initial personal thoughts in response to this –

Your idea could be small-scale, but quick and easy to put into action. It could be more radical, involving significant changes to where and how government works.

My own first thoughts turn immediately to the process of statementing for special educational needs. Maybe aspects of Surestart too. Any other suggestions?

Postings on Conductive World are notified routinely on Facebook, on which this evening Sheila Fuller commented with a peremptory challenge of her own – 

What would you introduce instead of this?

A short and vital question, to which I offer the following immediate response –

A smartened-up version of the informal brokerage/mediation/negotiation for changing placements that was regarded as advanced practice around thirty years ago (and yes, don't ask, sanctions in the background for really oddball situations.

Outside deaf and blind education, and to some degree in intellectual disabilities, there is precious little formal special-educational skill to be claimed by schools (special or other). This is not to deny the attributes that which exist, differentially, at the personal and institutional level, that lies anyway outside the explicit consideration of most statementing. What relevant skills there may be in the 'therapies' hardly matters because (a) in reality they are so thin on the ground as to be virtually non-existent and (b) these are matters for the health service and have no place in determination of a 'special educational needs'.

And of course there is precious little relevant formal skill/knowledge in the assessment process itself. It has made for great job-creation for years but its adds little of value to understanding what can be done for pupils, and the bumf-mountains that it generates go largely unread, anyway. One could dispose of the whole trade of 'educational psychology' at a stroke: would anybody feel a loss?

Loose the psychologists, and all that report-writing by others for the psychologists to summarise, lose the Byzantine bureaucracy to administer all this, lose the tribunals, and you have a decent-sized cost-saving for the Treasury. School placement would be a lot quicker than it is now, with parents spared a lot of grief – but these are not the criteria for this government initiative. What matters is that costs would be saved and efficiencies achieved. Would anything meaningful be lost? The same people would continue educating the same children in the same way, and probably in precisely the same places – as happened after the legislative upheavals of 1944 and 1981.

The prime placement mechanism would be informally exercised parental choice, in a market-place in which schools and teachers will have become sharply aware that remaining in work depends upon pulling their weight.. Within that, if anything 'extra' or special is to be provided, decision would have to be made on the honest (but now explicit) basis of what is and is not affordable. No change in substance bu at least this decision would now be honest and explicit ('transparent').

These administrative measures are proposed fully consistent with the central simple developmental-pedagogic principle that prescriptive assessment in the context of special education provision is an absurd nonsense  – unless of course one expects the pedagogic intervention to have no substantive effect upon the pupils' subsequent development/education . (Admitting this does rather call the whole  business into question! Lose the prescriptive assessment, then processes of proper pedagogic assessment as an integral aspect of the pupils' whole education, just might be developed in its stead.
Thanks for asking this question. It forces me into a quick jot-down of what I would like to say when this consultation is thrown open It took very little time to write and I see that it runs in this form to within the required limit of 500 words. Please, anybody who reads this, be as critical as you like..Point out the flaws and the gaps. Suggest some extras. Then I shall have one proposal at least polished up and ready to go when the Challenge is thrown open to all on 8 July.

PS  In case I have not made this clear, the above does not refer specifically to motor-disorder/physical disability, but to all statementing (and recording in Scotland, for good measure).

References

This morning's posting on this topic

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