A Lot of Learning

Manchester's Strategic Education Partnership held its quarterly meeting yesterday with a lot to discuss. We opened with progress of the Manchester Schools' Alliance, a grouping which will decide on its long term future in the spring but is already making serious progress in meeting one of its main objectives, providing peer support to Manchester schools and Manchester teachers.

The main item of discussion though was around a presentation on special educational needs in the city, dealing both with the current position and with future changes arising from legislation going through parliament. Good news is that the number of children overall with SEN is going down. More worrying is that the proportion of learners with high level needs remains the same, which means with rising pupil rolls, the number is going up. The balance between different sorts of educational needs is changing, with declines in social emotional behaviour difficulties and moderate learning difficulties, a fairly stable number with speech language impairment, but a big increase in autistic spectrum disorder, the last peculiarly almost entirely in boys. With fixed funding, meeting this increased demand will be a real challenge but moving to streamlined assessment processes integrating education, care and health services will help enormously.

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