Mayor Boris Johnson published the findings of his yearlong Education Inquiry on 22 October 2012.  

In his response to the Inquiry Report he tells us that he will be setting up a unit called New Schools for London, to identify new sites for free school groups.  In addition he publishes plans to establish a London Schools Excellence Fund; offering a ‘London Curriculum’ for schoolchildren; and creating the ‘Gold Club’, an annual scheme to identify schools that are achieving success, particularly for the most disadvantaged pupils.

Black Parent Network Submission

The Black Parent Network was amongst those that submitted answers to the Inquiry to give the perspective of ordinary black parents about the educational experiences and outcomes for their children going to school in the London area.  One area of concern was the fact that ordinary families find that they are expected to deal with any problems encountered with schools alone.  Frequently when they seek help there are only a very few agencies that offer a joined up personalised approach to deal with difficulties.  This support is vital when dealing with education legislation and policy that parents are unaware of or do not have the skills to navigate. 

Education Ombudsman

One of the Black Parent Network’s proposals was that there is a need for a body like an Education Ombudsman to champion the rights of children and to provide support to parents encountering difficulties with a school.  Critically such a body would regulate the behaviour of schools with regard to their legal obligations and the policies that they set to ensure that the rights of children are protected and thereby ensure that they receive fair treatment and that schools provide good educational standards.

 

Report  Findings

The Mayor’s Education Inquiry report is quite long but is an easy read.  Disappointingly it does not lend enough weight to the complex issues to do with the disproportionately high level of African and Caribbean children that are excluded from schools.  However there are some good references to plans to raise the aspirations and attainments of children from deprived backgrounds.  In addition the report flags up the work  of the Achievement for All Project which is aimed at addressing better outcomes for children with Special Educational Needs.  Debates are ongoing and long established about the apparently large number of black children diagnosed as having special educational needs and how this in turn affects their educational outcomes.  The work of the project seems to be well placed to have the potential to deliver real solutions to pupils who are  at risk of underachieving due to special needs. 

Inclusion of  Parents

Very refreshingly, the Achievement for All Project  adopts an inclusive approach to parents by building them into the framework for supporting children at school.  This is encouraging a positive departure from traditional school models that adopt a bolt on approach to parental involvement or worse still effectively excludes  them from the equation for providing educational solutions with a preference for leaving it to the so called experts.  See below for more details about the Achievement for All Project.

Achievement for All Project

The Achievement for All Project is an exciting and pioneering programme that supports schools and local authorities to provide the very best opportunities to ensure children and young people with SEND fulfil their potential.   It provides local authorities and schools with support and resources from which they can develop sustainable local solutions to meet the needs of this group of children and young people.

 

Achievement for All brings together current programmes already underway and builds on the good practice that many local authorities and schools already model as they move towards approaches which focus more on outcomes rather than processes.

 

Achievement for All does not offer one single solution; rather it aims to support 460

schools, in ten pilot local authorities, to implement and share the best inclusive practice for improving outcomes for children and young people with SEND. Schools taking part in the project will be trailblazers for developing more inclusive places of learning where children and young people with SEND can feel safe, confident and supported in achieving their potential.

 

The project strengthens the focus on parental engagement, the educational achievement of pupils with SEND and to improve the wider outcomes of children and young people with SEND.

 

In order to deliver its objectives the project will:

 

  1. Will focus on assessment, tracking and intervention to identify and support children and young people with SEND.
  2. Engage in structured conversation with parents to build their relationship with and confidence in the school.
  3. Ensure provision is made available to enable children and young people to develop across a wider range of outcomes.

 For further reading see the links below.

 Links

 Mayor’s Education Report

http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/The%20Mayor's%20Educat...

 

Achievement for All Project Report

 

http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/2401/1/sen_afa_guide_00782.pdf

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