I’ve blogged a couple of times now banging on about how Wales is in the fortunate position of being able to learn from the English experience as the SEN reforms continue to bed in on the otherside of Offa’s Dyke. And with that in mind I’d like to draw your attention to a recent blog by Tania, founder and CEO of SEN Jungle. Tania’s two youngsters are moving on to post-16 educations and their statements and being ‘converted’ into Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), the equivalent of the Individual Development Plans being proposed by the Welsh Government to replace statements in Wales. Two things sprang immediately to my eyes namely, (a) the amount of time, patience and effort she has evidently dedicated to process – how many parents have the knowledge and ability to do the same? And (b), Tania’s observations about the implementation of the reforms:
I won’t go on too much about all this as yet other than to say that I believe the issues we have faced are the result of the changes having virtually no lead-in time after the publication of the ‘final’ Code of Practice (although the CoP has already been updated since then). You can’t train staff in a new system that is to be immediately implemented to hundreds of young people when you don’t know exactly what the rules are. Especially if you’re expecting them to write legally compliant documents when they have never done this before. (Added emphasis)
It’s still early days but there seems to be growing anecdotal evidence that reforms of the scale introduced in England, which are directly comparable with those proposed for Wales, need careful planning and training to avoid putting the cart before the horse. Fortunately, thanks to Huw Lewis’s recent decision to postpone the potential introduction of an ALN Bill in Wales, we have time to constructively observe how the implementations are going in England and draw the appropriate lessons and build them into how change is implemented here.