Tag Archives | All Children

What do we mean by ALL children?

exam-stress

ALL – an adjective meaning:

  • The whole of (used in referring to quantity, extent, or duration)

  • The whole number of (used in referring to individuals or particulars, taken collectively)

  • The greatest possible (used in referring to quality or degree)

  • Every

When using this adjective to describe children in schools we assume the meaning to be 100% of pupils.

In February Education Secretary, Nikki Morgan, said that ALL children in England will be expected to know up to their 12 times table when they leave primary school and that they should also know correct punctuation, spelling and grammar.

This week the Conservative Government have announced that ALL children who do not get good grades in KS2 SATs will have to re-sit them in Year 7. The expectation being, I assume, that they will achieve good grades by the end of Year 7.

That means that the Conservative Government’s latest announcement (08.04.15) is expecting that 100% of all pupils will achieve the national standard (whatever that will mean in the future) by age 12 (was 11 but now extended to the end of Year 7).

However, they also state that children with SEN will not have to undertake re-sits.  It is not clear if they mean those children in special schools or ALL children identified with special educational needs.

The DfE Statistical First Release National curriculum assessments at Key Stage 2 in England: 2014 indicates that approximately 21% of pupils in England did not attain Level 4 or above in reading, writing and mathematics.  Coincidentally, according to the DfE Statistical First Release Special Educational Needs: January 2014, 21% of year 6 pupils in 2014 were identified as having special educational needs, a significant number are therefore unlikely to achieve this national standard, implying that that there are in fact, very few children who will be required to undertake re-sits, unless politicians are only referring to those children with a statement (3.2% in Year 6 in 2014).

My question is why are we not putting additional resources to support children with SEN both in special and mainstream schools rather than waste a significant amount on additional resource on testing processes and procedures for what will be a very small group of children?

The SEND Reforms introduced through the Children and Families Act 2014 make it very clear that every teacher is responsible and accountable for the progress of all pupils that they teach.  Schools are working hard to ensure that teachers have the knowledge and understanding to meet the needs of ALL pupils and SENCOs are reporting that moving to a single category, SEN Support is resulting in teachers having a clearer understanding of the difference between underachievement and SEN.

 I believe that this would have been reflected in a reduction in numbers of pupils identified as SEN in future years.

Will this latest announcement reverse this trend? Have they thought this through?

I have spent the whole of my educational career working tirelessly to support vulnerable young people and I am concerned when I hear that “ALL children will ……” In fact, I know that ALL children won’t but this is not due to low expectation, low aspiration or mediocracy. This is because some children, for many different reasons, will not learn and attain at the same rates as their peers but they will make progress and we must celebrate the achievements of ALL children not just those who manage to reach “national standard” by a certain date.

The casual use of the word ALL says to me that politicians don’t really mean ALL. The Statistical First Release Special Educational Needs in England: January 2014 indicates that 17.9% of children in schools have been identified with special educational needs. It would appear that they are not recognised as part of the whole school population – ALL therefore means 82.1% of children! Or does it?

Politicians are setting up a whole generation of children and young people for a life-time of failure – from the Development Check at age 2 to GCSEs at age 16 there will be a significant group of pupils who will be unable to meet the national standard.

In my view (and I suspect, in the view of many fellow professionals) ALL children have a right to an education that meets their needs and enables them to learn and progress to reach their full potential within an education system that recognises ALL achievement. What a pity that politicians have yet again resorted to sweeping generalisations, in order to court popularity.