Last week was Dyslexia Awareness Week.
During that week, the Data and Marketing Association published an online Dyslexia Employer Guide which can help employers understand dyslexia, and make their workplaces more inclusive.
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - May-Jun 2016 - number 86
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - May-Jun 2016 - number 86
In her capacity as Shadow Minister for Children and Families, Sharon has launched a review into SEND provision in the Children and Families Act, following analysis which reveals that children with special educational needs and disabilities are falling through the net.
Sharon chairing the first roundtable of her review into SEND provision.
According to analysis by the Labour Party:
- New official figures published in response to a Parliamentary Question reveal that 78 per-cent of children in Alternative Provision have a statement of special educational needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
- New figures also show that over 33,000 children with SEND are on fixed term exclusions from schools. Research reveals that pupils with SEND are nine times more likely to be excluded than their peers, and account for 70 per-cent of all permanent exclusions.
This also links with research by charities, such as the National Autistic Society, which found that half of parents of children on the autism spectrum are “dissatisfied” and around half still struggle to access the ‘Local Offer’ – despite this being a statutory requirement of local authorities to provide these families with information about local services they can access.
The review will consider:
- the impact of “every school an academy”, which remains the Government’s goal, on SEND admissions and provision;
- the drafting of EHCPs;
- the transition from Statements to EHCPs;
- the variability in the ‘Local Offer’;
- the SEN Code of Practice;
- provision of SEND in Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and;
- accessing specialist services within the school setting.
The review will have two roundtable sessions in May, and a call for written evidence running until the summer. A report published in the autumn will feed into the Labour Party’s National Policy Forum; a key component of policy development towards the Party’s manifesto for 2020.
“The Government promised that reforms set out in the Children and Families Act during the last Parliament would transform the experience of children with SEND and their families. Yet two years later, we are seeing significant numbers of these children excluded from school and many of their parents experiencing significant difficulties in accessing support.
“With their recent Schools White Paper failing to announce any new meaningful reforms to SEND provision, Tory Ministers seem content with the status quo. This simply isn’t good enough: far more needs to be done to improve the attainment, outcomes and experiences of children with SEND, so that we can ensure all children and young people have a fair chance of making a fulfilling transition to adulthood.
“That is why today Labour is launching a review into the current provision for children and young people with SEND, to identify why so many children with SEND are being excluded from school and what the next steps should be for SEND provision and services in England.”
Call for Written Evidence
To submit written evidence to the review, please send no more than 5 pages of A4, type size: 12 point, Arial font, to: [email protected] including evidence and recommendations no later than 6pm on Friday 29th July 2016.
Hand-written submissions will be accepted, but typed is preferred. To send hand-written evidence, please send it to:
FAO Daniel Robert Tye
c/o Sharon Hodgson MP
House of Commons,
London, SW1A 0AA
Written evidence can include thoughts, stories, evidence of best practice, research or recommendations but are not exclusive to this list. The requirements on length must be strictly adhered too in order for all submissions to be considered.
You can also read Sharon's Labour List blog piece on the SEND Review here.
28th June 2016
Statement from Sharon regarding the SEND Review:
“As many of you will know, yesterday afternoon I made the difficult decision to resign as the Shadow Minister for Children and Families. In this role, I have had the pleasure of working with many organisations, specialists and individuals in the SEN world to ensure that children, no matter their circumstances or needs, get the best start in life.
“However, this now, unfortunately, means that I will not be continuing my work on the SEND Review. This will now be taken up by my successor, who is yet to be appointed. Once that happens I will undertake a full handover and ensure that this important area of policy development continues. I want to give my sincere thanks to all who have worked with me and supported me in this role and my work in this area over the years.
“This sector really has the most committed individuals who go above and beyond to campaign and support children with SEND, and that is why I will continue to champion the issues facing children and young people with SEND from the backbenches as I have done since becoming a Member of Parliament.”
Sharon speaking at a business event on apprenticeships and social value 29.04.16
Image copyright Henk Geertsema ACIM, 2016
Sharon was invited to speak at a business event in Sedgefield titled 'Competing for Social Value in Procurement Contracts', along with Labour MEP, Jude Kirton-Darling, about stretching social value by businesses and companies when recruiting apprentices. Sharon spoke about the need to address the issue of young people being left in a constant cycle of check-list training courses or short-term apprenticeships with no prospects of a job at the end of it, and the despondency both can have on the life chances of young people and the need for businesses and training providers to recognise the social value they can have in creating a diverse and skilled workforce.
You can read Sharon's speech below:
Firstly, I want to thank Stephanie and Rachel for inviting me to come and speak to you today.
Social value has become a much more important part of public procurement in recent years, with businesses and organisations who bid for public contracts now needing to consider how they can improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of their local area.
This is something I have worked on in recent months with Rachel Lumsden, Stephanie Smith and other experts and organisations within my local authority area in Sunderland, especially when it comes to the social impact of apprenticeships for young people.
In latest guidance by the Government to authorities and businesses on procurement of contracts, it stated that contracts worth £10 million or more, and last for 12 months or longer, should support the upskilling of their workforce and the wider community, along with working towards the Government’s ambitious, but noble, target of creating three million apprenticeships by 2020.
Organisations here in the room today may never be competing for contracts worth £10 million or more, but this doesn’t mean that the principles of ensuring that we work towards upskilling our workforce - a value held across the board within the business community – is not still worth pursuing and I know that many here today, will agree and already champion this belief.
However, there is always more that can be done and this is what I wish to talk to you all about today.
Apprenticeships unlock success
It is undeniable the impact that a high-quality apprenticeship can have on the lives of young people in providing them with skills for life, along with the chance to earn whilst they learn and move on in life with a sustainable career path – something we all wish for our children.
As a region, we pride ourselves on our strong manufacturing and industrial heritage and the entwined appreciation for just how important an apprenticeship can be to getting on in life.
It is important that when a business provides an apprenticeship to a young person, that we don’t, after six months, see them tossed out on to the street with no job to go into and that they have just been making up the numbers to ensure targets set out by the Government are met.
This is something I know all too well from personal experience, when during the 1980s, I saw my two brothers go through a turnstile of training programmes, they were called YOPs and YTSs back then, but when it came to the end of the six-month period, they were told: ‘There’s no job here for you’ and they would end up on yet another scheme, and see this repeated time and time again.
My youngest brother did four YTS’s and went from an eager 16-year-old dreaming of being a mechanic to an angry disillusioned 18-year-old on the dole with no prospects. It took a number of years to recover from that and he eventually got his chance when thankfully his best friend’s dad, who laid marble floor tiles as a sub-contractor in airports and shopping malls, gave him a job labouring for him.
This was just the break my brother, probably aged 20 or 21 by then, needed. He went from strength to strength, learnt the trade, became a floorer himself and is now a director of the company. Now, that’s the difference giving a young person a chance makes to their life. If only those 4 companies which let him go after 6 months had given him a chance! Their loss!
This is why I am passionate about the recognition of the social value and impact that businesses can have on the lives of young people.
If we take the message that came out of National Apprenticeship Week last month, of: the positive impact apprenticeships can have on our economy, but also on a more personal level with the social mobility that can come with undertaking an apprenticeship, it is understandable just how far we have come since the 1980s.
We can’t just celebrate apprenticeships for one week alone though, we need to do this day in, day out, by actively working towards improving the quality and access to apprenticeships on offer to our young people.
That is why there is still more to do, and this is a message that I hope will come out of today.
For many young people in our region there is no hope of them securing an apprenticeship, with the Government’s requirements that young people must have a Grade C in English and Maths.
Whilst it is important that we continue to aspire to pushing the outcomes of young people achieving an A* to C in the core subjects, we have to realise that this is not always possible for all young people, especially some with SEND.
There are many skilled apprenticeships which understandably need to have the grades in order to complete the work needed of them to a high-standard, such as using high level thinking, maths skills such as algebra etc, or complex concepts.
But should a young person aspiring to do an apprenticeship working in an office, with the functional mathematical and literacy skills to do the job, be excluded from this life changing apprenticeship that is open to their peers.
Or excluding a young person who is good with their hands from an apprenticeship as a construction worker or a welder, because they didn’t get their C in Maths and English, although may have plenty other GCSE A – C, I think this is wrong when they can learn all the functional skills needed to do this job whilst working on site.
For many young people applying what they are trying to learn in the classroom to the actual life scenarios they are now in can make the penny drop to help them develop skills they never thought they would have, with some then reaching the magic C in English and Maths during their apprenticeship. Others will bring their Maths and English up to the functional level. They just need the chance, their break.
Recent figures I obtained through a Parliamentary Question to the Department for Education found that 42% of young people in the North East by the age of 16 were not achieving at least a Grade C in English and Maths.
Many of those young people may get the required grades the following year, or the year after that, yet what is deeply concerning is that because of this block imposed on the entry requirements for an apprenticeship we are seeing some young people being placed onto remedial course after remedial course, so that training providers can tick a box to say they are supporting young people to achieve their needed qualifications – and in some cases, no real progress is ever made. With the young person becoming increasingly disillusioned and losing all hope of ever getting the chance to get on, get a break, to start their life as an adult.
This harks back to what I mentioned earlier with my brother’s experiences in the 1980s, and the danger of creating a despondent and disengaged generation of young people who are being locked out of achieving their true potential because they have not been given the opportunities to do so. Not able to even get over the first hurdle.
What can businesses do
That is why it is up to businesses, such as yourselves here today, to tap into this idea of social value and ensure that young people are given the opportunities they need in life to change their lives for the better.
To do this, there needs to be scrutiny and creativity driving forward how we look at the way we recruit apprentices and always keeping in mind the idea of: ‘what am I giving back to my local community?’
One way of doing this is by looking at the processes undertaken by training companies and holding them to account on how they are recruiting and training the apprenticeship workforce in our region, and who better to do this than those who use their services – that is all of you.
Secondly, speak to them and find out more about their recruitment procedures and have the important discussions about how making social value a central ethos to your apprenticeship recruitment is important to you and your organisation and challenging them to do more.
These are two important ways of taking this issue further.
There is so much more we can do to ensure we unlock the doors of opportunity to the widest possible cross-section of society, and allow those young people in our local area to have the best chances in life through the social mobility an apprenticeship can have on their life.
Thank you for listening.
Sharon has shown her support to the National Autistic Society’s (NAS) ‘Too Much Information’ campaign, which aims to improve the public’s understanding of autism.
As part of the campaign, NAS has released a report which reveals that poor public understanding of autism is pushing autistic people and their families into isolation.
According to a survey of over 7,000 people, their families and friends, and professionals:
- 84% of autistic people say people judge them as strange.
- 79% of autistic people and 70% of family members feel socially isolated.
- 50% of both autistic people and family members sometimes or often don’t go out because they’re worried about how people.
A recent YouGov poll in 2015 found that over 99.5% of people in the UK had heard of autism, however only 16% of autistic people and their families said that members of the public had a meaningful understanding of autism.
At the launch of the campaign in Parliament, Sharon met Alex Marshall, a ten-year-old autistic boy, who features in a short campaign film which shows an autistic child experiencing ‘too much information’ as he walks through a shopping centre. The film ends with the words: ‘I’m not naughty: I’m autistic’.
Following the launch, Sharon said:
“It is wonderful to see the National Autistic Society continuing to raise awareness and understanding of autism here in the UK and to see so many of my Parliamentary colleagues supporting their ‘Too Much Information’ campaign.
“When a person with autism is judged or looked down on because of the general public’s lack of understanding, it shows just how much further we have to go to ensure everyone feels included in society.
“No-one should ever feel so misunderstood that they don’t leave their homes because of it and I am encouraging my constituents to learn more about autism and understand this condition better.”
You can find out more about the NAS campaign and autism in general by going to their website here.
You can also watch the short campaign video below:
News from Westminster
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Mar-Apr 2016 - number 84
Sharon Hodgson speaking in the second day of the Budget Debates - 21st February 2016
Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016
Following the Chancellor's Budget on 16th March 2016, Sharon spoke in the second day of the Budget debates and raised concerns about the complete and forced academisation of schools in England and the impact this could have on children with special educational needs and disabilities, along with the failure of the Chancellor to significantly recognise the North East in his Budget which was driven by his desire to push further on his pet project, the Northern Powerhouse.
Read Sharon's speech in Hansard here: Sharon Hodgson MP in the Budget Debate 2016
Test pasted here:
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab): In the time allotted, I cannot cover all the items that make up this ultra-shambles of a Budget, but I will set out a few.
The Government believe that the complete academisation of our schools by 2020 will help to address the widening gap in educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged in our schools. Yet there are many concerns about what that will mean in reality, especially for children with special educational needs and disability.
Since the publication of the Department for Education White Paper, many parents and organisations have contacted me regarding their concerns about what the proposals will mean for children with autism, dyslexia or other special educational needs or disabilities. Evidence has shown that academies have higher rates of exclusion of children with SEND, who are then pushed into local authority maintained schools. Once all schools are academies, who will take the excluded children with SEND? Those children are as worthy as any others of receiving a high-quality education, and I hope the Government will ensure that we continue to have an inclusive education system and that children with SEND are not sidelined or excluded in the fully academised school system they are creating.
Other announcements by the Chancellor failed to recognise the need for further investment in the north-east. That was seen clearly when he announced £80 million for Crossrail 2 in London and the next phase of high-speed rail—High Speed 3—which will go only as far as Leeds. Some of us live more than 100 miles further north, in the north-east, and I wait with bated breath for the day when HS4 or HS5—or will it be HS 67?—reaches us in the north-east.
The Chancellor obviously sees himself as the King in the North, with his northern powerhouse project, but he needs to realise that there is a lot more of the north before he gets to the wall—that is Hadrian’s wall, not the one in “Game of Thrones”. If he truly wants to be the King in the North, and we all know he has—or should I now say had?—ambitions for higher office, he needs to realise that there is a large section of the north between Yorkshire and Scotland called the north-east and to ensure that investment is directed to our region too.
However, there is still something the Chancellor can do now—invest in the future of the Tyne and Wear Metro. The rolling stock has not been updated in its 36-year history. However, for an estimated £400 million, a much-needed completely new fleet could be built, which would future-proof the network into the 21st century, with options for dual voltage giving it the ability to procure vehicles suitable to support future route extensions, such as the expansion into Washington via the Leamside line, which I have campaigned for more than 10 years. That would help not only to drive economic growth, with improved connectivity to other parts of the region, but provide the vital jobs we need through the building of the new fleet.