Dear Sir or Madam,
I am a volunteer with Norfolk SEND Partnership, and have been for the last seventeen years. I work mostly in the west of the Norfolk region.
I work with parents of children with Special Educational Needs, and as such many of these children cannot cope with mainstream school environments. They are either permanently excluded or simply refuse to attend school.
I therefore have long experience dealing with short stay provision. Over seventeen years, it has always been difficult to provide children with an adequate education at these types of short stay schools.
The situation recently has become significantly worse.
The conversion of these schools into academies seems to have reduced the hours children can attend. I have three current cases where children are either being offered no education at all, or at the most four-and-a-half hours a week. Parents being asked to home-educate them is not an option we should consider as a civilised society.
I personally am not a fan of academies, but that is another argument. What I am seriously worried about is how parents can cope with children who are only being given a tiny window of education in a learning environment.
Could you suggest to whom these parents can appeal to increase the hours their children receive in short stay schools? Are you as an authority able to change the now independent academy-based structure, or have any influence on it?
We as a county, and indeed country, should be educating all our children.
I quote below the United Nations statement on the right to education. This is aimed at the least developed countries, but can you really tell me that we are meeting these obligations in Britain?
Education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights ... Normative instruments of the United Nations and UNESCO lay down international legal obligations for the right to education. These instruments promote and develop the right of every person to enjoy access to education of good quality, without discrimination or exclusion ... It is for governments to fulfil their obligations both legal and political in regard to providing education for all of good quality[.]
Move away from results-based criteria, aim to educate every single child to the best of their ability!