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Memorial service of Baroness Warnock

Thursday 31 October 2019

Helen Boden, BDA, CEO, recently attended the memorial service of Baroness Warnock. This marked the passing of one of the great pioneers of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in education.

The Warnock Report in 1978 first put forward the concepts of special educational needs and inclusion. Key recommendations included that children should be educated in mainstream settings with special schools being for those with the most complex and multiple difficulties. However, the recommendation had some conditions attached to it, these being; parents should be in agreement, the child’s needs were capable of being met and the local authority was using its resources efficiently. The report also recommended the expansion of special needs advisory and support services.

The later Rose Review then built on this with a series of recommendations;

  • all schools and LAs should have access to specialist help with teaching dyslexic pupils and, to this end, a number of teachers should receive specific training to become dyslexia specialists
  • schools and LAs should review how they can share specialist dyslexia teaching resources
  • teacher training programmes and continuing professional development (CPD) programmes should “build on initiatives for strengthening coverage of special educational needs and disability (including dyslexia)”

So here we are years on from both of these reports, still with the ongoing conflicts between parents, schools and local authorities. Parents are often not in agreement with the support being provided, schools are often not able to meet the needs of children and local authorities having limited resources and support services having been annihilated in many cases. Specialist Dyslexia Teachers are more often than not still unavailable in mainstream settings and initial teacher training providing very limited coverage of SEND.

The BDA’s recent APPG report provided damning evidence of the current situation. It is incredible that the solutions were identified many years ago yet here we are still having the same battles.