Yesterday, I read a thread on a Facebook Group I’m part of asking about support strategies for a student who was trying to revise and retain information ready for their GCSEs. This is fairly run of the mill. That is, until it transpired that the student had only recently arrived in the UK and had PTSD because they had escaped a literal war-zone. What ensued as a discussion of potential places to get support for the student, means of accessing the support and differences in regional procedures. All of us, as participants in the discussion left it feeling utterly despondent for the student, whose trauma we cannot begin to imagine, and frustrated at the fractious, inconsistency of support for students in need in England.
Schools shouldn’t be politicised, used as electioning fodder and subject to party-political egos. But they are. Procedures around SEND provision, support for mental health difficulties, EAL students. All of these differ from one LA to the next. There is no standardisation and there is active celebration of this from the current lot in number 10.
The responsibility for provision of sufficient school places lies with Local Authorities but Local Authorities are not permitted to open new schools; instead they must invite proposals from Academies or Free Schools. SEN funding systems have been simplified according to government, but they are more complicated and nationally post-code lotteries of provision are rampant.
Policies are dichotomous and unfit for purpose. Schools are politicised balls in a dysfunctional Westminster-based game of verbal tennis. So while schools are meant to be places where our children and young people can grow and be nurtured and develop their views independently, coherently and calmly, at present that just doesn’t seem to be high on agendas.
Instead, point scoring, arguments over educational structures and counting funding beans and moving pennies around a spreadsheet seems to be order of the day.
It’s not good times.