07 Jul

Special Schools’ Voice

Special Schools’ Voice (SSV) seeks to bring together the voices of those working across our sector, presenting them to Government agencies (DfE, OFTSED, National College) so that a genuine dialogue takes place leading to a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities we face. SSV now brings together Special Teaching Schools, SWALSS, FLSE, NASEM, SSAT and Special Academies. Many of the issues within Special Schools are the same or similar to those within the mainstream, whilst the management of other aspects relies on a good understanding of the context. Listening to Estelle Morris some time ago, she reflected on the importance of Government policy being better informed by knowledge of issues from our sector. During the last year SSV has aimed to listen to schools and has worked constructively to support policy making with an understanding of the issues faced by practitioners in our schools.

Following the recent election the political context is clearly complex. It could be envisaged that policy making will be more pragmatic and responsive, rather than strongly philosophically driven. It could also be presumed that Brexit will considerably preoccupy the process of Government. It will be interesting to see what effect this context has on educational policy making and, more specifically, the place of and expectations on special schools. In the absence of policy that overtly directs us, the existing system may well go through a period of consolidation. Of course how long this period prevails is the big question. This could, however, offer a ‘breather’ from the relentless direction and redirection resulting from changes to Government policy or lessen the political steer.

At the same time the expectation and benefits of a schools led system continue to be promoted. Within this context schools perhaps more than ever before have an opportunity to influence the development of the educational system.

The importance of Special Schools working together and/or with their mainstream partners has even greater relevance and potential. Some of these groupings relate to the traditional local authority clusters, others have moved to more formalised Trusts, Associations, and MATS. One consequence could be increased fragmentation and isolation of individual schools or groups of schools. The importance of organisations like SSV and its constituent associations that aspire to bring the interests of schools together has even more relevance.

SSV is committed to listening to your views and the views of the associations it represents. It meets with colleagues from Government agencies throughout the year and it is vital that this agenda is driven by your views. Prior to any meeting Wendy Warren, SSV Clerk, (wwarren@newbridgegroup.org) sends out an email requesting your views. SSV representatives want to gather and represent your views so please do get involved and contribute so that we can ensure these conversations are engaging with the issues that matter to you.

Mark Collis

(Representing Special Teaching Schools)