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ALLFIE's General Election Campaign 2017

The 2017 snap General Election produced a surprise result: a hung parliament where no single party has overall control. Whilst the Conservative Party has won the majority of parliamentary seats, they did not gain sufficient seats to govern by themselves, which means that if they want to pass education law (or any other law) then they will need to secure support from other political parties. Currently, the Conservative government is seeking support from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party for their proposed legislative programme outlined in the Queen's Speech.

The great news for ALLFIE is that the government have ditched their plan to expand selective education in the state sector. This success is no doubt down to all the people including ALLFIE members and supporters who have campaigned against the government's divisive plans to bring back grammar schools.

The other main education proposals also in the Queen's Speech are:

As always we will be pressing the government to ensure that educational opportunities are inclusive for disabled people and new plans do not adversely affect us. Keep an eye out for our campaigns briefing to find out more.

 

 

Vote for inclusive education?

Before the election, this was what the political parties were saying about inclusive education.


Scottish National Party (SNP)

Former SNP Westminster spokesperson for Social Justice and Welfare and candidate for Banff and Buchan Eilidh Whiteford said: "The SNP is a strong supporter of the presumption of mainstream education. We support the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc Act 2000 that places a duty on education authorities to provide education in a mainstream school unless specific exceptions apply.

"A cornerstone of our inclusive approach to education is the presumption of mainstreaming for pupils with additional support needs.

"We know that significant numbers of children, young people and their families have benefited from that inclusive approach. However, it is necessary that we ensure that the approach to mainstreaming is undertaken in an effective fashion, which is why John Swinney Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education has commissioned a review of the guidance on mainstreaming.

"That is to ensure that the existing guidance reflects the legislative and policy context and succeeds in delivering on individuals' expectations. The extended consultation on that guidance will begin on 19 May and will run until the end of August. That will enable individuals to respond to the issues over a long period of time.

"The SNP wants all children and young people to receive the full support that they need to reach their full potential and will continue working hard to help enable this."


Labour Party

The Labour manifesto includes the following: "We will deliver a strategy for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) based on inclusivity, and embed SEND more substantially into training for teachers and non-teaching staff, so that staff, children and their parents are properly supported."

The manifesto also lists the following:


Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats responded:

"The Liberal Democrats are fully committed to this. Successive waves of institutional, curriculum and qualifications reform have been rolled out without regard to the interests of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The Government is then forced to 'bolt on' additional guidance when it realises its statutory duties are not being met. Consequently, students with SEND and their parents are forced to navigate an incredibly complex legal framework.

"For example, changes to Disabled Students' Allowance mean that universities must now meet some of the lower-intensity needs of disabled students. However, the Government has not issued guidance on how universities should meet this duty. When Liberal Democrat peer Lord Addington asked Ministers what they would do about this, they replied that "we would let the courts decide" when a university failed to meet its duties. It is simply unacceptable that a 19 year old has to go to court in order to secure for themselves an inclusive university education.

"This sort of problem is being replicated across the education system. For this reason, we believe that any new education policy must be preceded by a full impact assessment that considers the effect of the reform on children with SEND. In particular, the policy must be demonstrated to comply with the Equality Act 2010.

"Schools face £3 billion of cuts by 2020. This is the most financial pressure schools have been in since the mid-1990s. Around £1.7 billion of these cuts will come to staff budgets, and teachers are telling MPs that counsellors, pastoral services and other support staff will be first to go. Local councils can help schools support vulnerable pupils, but the funding for their support services has been cut by 75%. It is simply unfair that the pupils who need the most support will face the brunt of these cuts.

"Yet at the same time, Ministers are introducing two new National Funding Formulas: one for schools and one for high-needs pupils and students at specialist SEND institutions. Approximately 9,000 schools lose out under the formula and so will be hit twice with cuts. The new formula cannot be 'fair' on pupils if schools lose money as a result of the changes. The Liberal Democrats will be setting out clear plans to ensure schools receive the funding they need to in our manifesto."


UK Independence Party (UKIP)

A spokesperson for UKIP responded: "The policy of closing special schools will be reversed. Every child is unique and the needs of each child should come first. Those who learn better in a tailored, non-mainstream environment should have the opportunity to do so."


Conservative Party

A Conservative Party spokesperson said:

"We are determined that every child, no matter the obstacles they face, should have the same opportunity for success as any other. This ambition is backed by a £5.3 billion investment in 2016-17 for children and young people with high needs. We have also announced a £215 million fund for councils across the country to improve and create more special provision, which will help build new classrooms and improve facilities for pupils with special educational needs, so that no child is left behind.

"The choice at the election is clear: it is a choice between Theresa May providing the strong and stable leadership we need for Brexit and beyond to keep on improving schools, or a coalition of chaos and instability led by Jeremy Corbyn, putting our economy and funding for schools at risk."


Green Party

Mags Lewis, Disability Spokesperson for the Green Party responded:

"The Green Party fully support disabled pupils' and students' human rights to a mainstream education. This was in our 2015 manifesto (our 2017 one has yet to be released). The Green Party is committed to the social model of disability, and a basic tenet is to have full inclusivity in education. People who are disabled have a right to participate fully in society.

"Specifically, we will:


Find out more:

The Case for Inclusive Education

Equip yourself with the arguments by reading this short leaflet - and pass it on!

ALLFIE's Manifesto for Inclusive Education

Read about and sign up to our ongoing manifesto campaign. Apart from asking politicians to commit to inclusive education, we want to build a mass movement of support for a truly inclusive education system in the UK.  We want to triple the number of organisations, individuals and allies involved in our campaigning work. So if you are not one of the 135 organisations and 720 individuals that have signed our Manifesto for Inclusive Education, NOW is the time to make that pledge. Add your name or your organisation’s name to ALLFIE’s Manifesto - contact us to do this.

UK Disabled People’s Manifesto

The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) is a coalition of disabled person led organisations working at the local, regional and national level. ROFA was set up in 2013 and has been working to coordinate disabled peoples' organisations' campaigning activity around local and general elections. ROFA have developed a UK Disabled People's Manifesto incorporating ALLFIE's manifesto asks. Read it here.