Disabled young people have told MPs how they have

first_imgDisabled young people have told MPs how they have been “cheated” by the government’s new system for supporting pupils and students through school and college.MPs on the Commons educationcommittee heard howdisabled pupils were being denied a voice in drawing up their education, healthand care plans (EHCPs), and how they were not receiving what had been promisedin those plans.Thecommittee also heard that EHCPs were too focused on education, rather thanbeing “life focused”.Thecommittee heard from seven disabled young people on Tuesday as part of itsinquiry into the impact of the special educational needs and disabilities(SEND) reforms introduced by the government through its Children and FamiliesAct 2014*.Three of them – Jordan, Ben and Eva (pictured, centre, left and right) – were part of the RIP: STARS research team, a project led by disabled young people and researchers at Coventry University, which also included support from The Alliance for Inclusive Education, and looked at the quality of EHCPs and whether they met disabled children and young people’s rights.Jordan saidsome of their findings had been “stunning”, and that he and many other disabledyoung people “feel we were cheated out of the education system and treatedpoorly by them”.He said theymade the “atrocious” discovery that disabled children “weren’t actually beinginvolved in the process of their EHCPs”, with the main discussions taking place“without talking to the child themselves”.He saidplans were “either being delayed, mistaken, poorly done and they are notmeeting the needs of the child”, and he called for something to be done toensure that plans “are being carried out correctly by staff” and “not justignored and forgotten”.Eva, anothermember of RIP: STARS, said: “We found out that what was written in the plan wasnot being followed through, so many children aren’t receiving the support andthe correct education that they need and they are missing out on theireducation and childhood.”She said theplans were not preparing disabled children and young people for independenceand adulthood.Eva said theplans should use the language of the social model of disability “so childrenare not defined by labels and they are not seen as a problem”. She added:“Disabled children have a right to mainstream education, so they should achievesupport to achieve this and be in mainstream education if they choose to doso.”Ben, a thirddisabled young person from RIP: STARS, said EHCPs were “too educational focusedand not life focused, so children are not receiving the support they need inother important areas such as developing independence, having choice andcontrol, achieving aspirations, life goals, friends, access in the community.”He said itwas not right that disabled pupils who do not fit in with the “norms and rolesand rules of education” were often “shipped off, excluded, offloaded, or hiddenin other places” and “forgotten about”.Francesca,one of two deaf pupils on the National Deaf Children’s Society’s (NDCS) young people’s advisory boardwho gave evidence, told the committee that a lack of support at school meantshe missed out on social situations and on learning “how to be confident andempowered”.She said shehad even been encouraged to use a separate “SEND room” at lunch, which alsomade it harder to build friendships with non-disabled pupils.She said:“It’s showing to the other students that these people need to be kept separate,which I feel is the wrong attitude completely. “It shouldbe about inclusivity and empowering those people.”Francescasaid that meetings about EHCPs sometimes happened without the disabled youngperson being present.She said:“It’s really frustrating because you feel you can make your own decisionsbecause it is your own support.”Anothermember of the NDCS advisory board, Ella, said she was “really struggling” tosecure the support she needed through the EHCP process, with the local councilcurrently refusing to provide her with a plan because it did not think she wasdeaf enough. As a result,she said, her grades were “far below what they should be”.And she saidthe only people the council would listen to were her parents, and not her.Simran, whois studying accountancy and management at Queen Mary University of London and waswith the charity my AFK, said: “As a disabled woman, I have to work harder thaneveryone else to achieve anything.“I thinkit’s a great shame that young people with SEND are left unsupported and theirachievements are unappreciated. “I’m a 21-year-oldstudying accountancy and I want to be an accountant, I want to work, I want tocontribute to the economy and society, but I feel like there’s not very manyopportunities for me to do so.”Kashifa, whois studying at college and was also with my AFK, said she had received “a lotmore support” when she was at school.She said:“Even though we had meetings about me going to college, I’m not sure theyreally understood my needs when I got there. “I thinkpeople make a judgement about what you’re capable of based on your appearance. “I knowpeople mean well and they know you get anxious in certain situations, and theywant to try to protect you, but this just means you won’t be able to tryanything because people think you won’t be able to cope, so the opportunitiesstop.”She added:“I don’t need people to tell me I need to be realistic, either. “I want towork things out for myself and then be able to make the choice. “I don’tneed to be protected all the time, I just need the chance to try differentthings and then I can decide.”*Under government reforms which came into effect in September 2014, local authorities in England had until April 2018 to move all disabled children and young people eligible for support from SEN statements to new EHCPs. The plans last from birth to the age of 25 and set out all the support they should receive across education, health and social care.A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *