The parables of SEND_ Is it extra like ‘the drowning man’ or ‘the tree and its fruits’_

I not too long ago got here throughout two linked articles written by tutorial Alan Hodkinson discussing the historical past of the SEND system. They instantly drew my consideration because the articles tried to grasp how we’ve got ended up within the long-running ‘SEND disaster’, and likewise as a result of Alan attracts on a parable of ‘the drowning man’ and I simply can’t resist a very good parable – as you’ll go on to see!

Each of those articles are ‘open entry’, and may be freely learn of their entirety. Though they’re seemingly meant for an instructional viewers, I feel the articles are each very accessible and are linked on the backside of this put up so that you can learn in full.

The drowning man parable

In Half I, Hodkinson attracts on the parable of the drowning man, which we reproduce right here:

A storm descends … because the waters rise, the preacher kneels in prayer on the church porch, surrounded by water. By and by, one of many townsfolk comes up the road in a canoe. “Higher get in, Preacher. The waters are rising quick.” “No,” says the preacher. “I place confidence in the Lord. He’ll save me.” Nonetheless the waters rise. Now the preacher is up on the balcony, wringing his arms in supplication, when one other man zips up in a motorboat. “Come on, Preacher. We have to get you out of right here…” As soon as once more, the preacher is unmoved. “I shall stay. The Lord will see me by means of.” After some time … the flood rushes over the church till solely the steeple stays above water. The preacher is up there, clinging to the cross, when a helicopter descends … and a state trooper calls right down to him … “Seize the ladder, Preacher. That is your final probability.” As soon as once more, the preacher insists the Lord will ship him. And, predictably, he drowns. A pious man, the preacher goes to heaven. … . he asks the Almighty, “Lord, I had unwavering religion in you. Why didn’t you ship me from that flood?” God shakes his head. “What did you need from me? I despatched you two boats and a helicopter. “ Parable of the Drowning Man (See Du Frane 2009)

How does this relate to SEND? Tracing the event and modifications in SEND-related coverage and programs to the Nineteen Seventies and the notorious 1978 Warnock Report, Hodkinson argues that regardless of 4 important fault strains rising and widening, just like the drowning man within the parable above, the ‘authorities, regardless of continued legislative failures, thinks it should save its programs of Particular Academic Wants and Incapacity (SEND) in England if it believes in them laborious sufficient’ (Hodkinson, 2023:2). The 4 fault strains recognized are:

Inadequate funding

Lack of multi-agency working

Lack of significant dad and mom/pupil participation

Inadequate coaching on SEND for lecturers (eg in preliminary trainer coaching).

The supply of the fault-lines

These fault strains may be traced again to the 1981 Training Act, which launched the language of ‘Particular Academic Wants’ and Statements, and so they haven’t been fastened since. Hodkinson demonstrates this by means of his complete abstract of analysis and evaluation inspecting SEND laws and their supporting Codes of Observe because the Eighties. He concludes that regardless of important authorities rhetoric, the promised radical tradition change merely has not occurred, regardless of numerous commitments and modifications in legislative framework during the last 4 a long time. Moreover—and it will come as no shock to SNJ readers—dad and mom proceed to should battle the system to make sure that their kids can get the help they want in training.

How has parliament mentioned the SEND system?

In Half II, Hodkinson explores the fault strains in better element, earlier than exploring how the SEND system has been mentioned in parliament because the introduction of the Kids & Households Act in 2014. Hansard gives an official report of all Parliamentary debates. Hodkinson’s undertook an evaluation of Hansard information that included the phrases ‘incapacity’, ‘particular wants’, ‘particular academic wants’, ‘extra wants’, ‘colleges,’ and ‘major’. 182 paperwork had been subsequently analysed and coded, to interrogate whether or not the 4 fault strains had been obvious inside parliament debates. The analysis checked out when it occurred and the way parliamentarians outlined or exploited the fault strains within the debates.

Hodkinson’s key findings display:

When it comes to coaching, parliamentarians seem to have been considerably quiet, although Preliminary Instructor Coaching is recognised as vital to delivering high-quality educating help, in addition to the voluntary sector experience that could possibly be utilised. He suggests the federal government’s, “…coronary heart didn’t actually appear to be in remediating this fault line”.

Language referring to ‘battles’ and ‘combating’ was obvious in parliamentary debates, demonstrating the persevering with antagonism and adversarial nature of the SEND system. Dad and mom had been described as being ‘sceptical’ that the 2014 reforms would offer an answer, however the authorities went forward anyway.

The federal government’s wider academic accountability agenda is working in opposition to any inclusion agenda, the place the one winner could possibly be accountability and requirements, resulting in the exclusion of pupils who weren’t wished/valued inside that system.

The federal government lays the blame of the failure of the reforms with native authorities and seems to be “out of contact with the truth that was occurring on the bottom for LAs, colleges, kids, and their households”.

Once more, to readers of Particular Wants Jungle none of that is prone to be a shock. Hodkinson clearly demonstrates the relevance of the parable of the drowning man – the federal government seems to be hoping that by clinging on, redemption and options to the SEND disaster and ever-widening fault strains will seem, but when options are being supplied they’re ignoring them. Hodkinson means that the federal government must pay attention extra to the voices of parliamentarians and the considerations that they’re elevating.

Now that is the place Hodkinson and I would depart in our conclusions. I want to introduce an alternate parable, that of the tree and its fruits:

Why am I speaking in regards to the tree and its fruits?

“Watch out for false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothes, however inwardly they’re ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruit. Do males collect grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so each good tree bringeth forth good fruit; however a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A great tree can’t deliver forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree deliver forth good fruit.” Matthew 7:16

It feels as if Hodkinson has forgotten that the federal government is made up of the very parliamentarians that he urges the federal government now to take heed to. Moreover, during the last forty years, parliamentarians of all colors and political leanings have been in energy in some unspecified time in the future – Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour. Whereas these parliamentarians would possibly nicely get up in political debates and lift considerations in regards to the ongoing points with the SEND system, the facility absolutely lies of their arms to impact significant change and handle the fault strains recognized.

Drawing on this different parable, I counsel that there must be recognition that the SEND system is solely not a very good tree that may bear good fruit. Nevertheless a lot authorities rhetoric there may be, or pruning of the SEND tree, it’s a tree that has issues deep inside its roots and must be lower down.

Regardless of being instructed that the 2014 reforms had been ‘transformative’, they continued to have deep roots within the suggestions of the Warnock Report and the 1981 laws. There is no such thing as a wholesale transformation of the training system to make it welcoming and inclusive of all pupils. The system relies on ‘deficit considering’, in relation to a big proportion of the varsity inhabitants, the place they’re assessed and sorted compared to a legendary ‘norm’, with particular person approaches to handle their must be put in place. We nonetheless have an ‘add on’ SEND method which might solely ever proceed to have the fault strains that Hodkinson rightly identifies.

But I’d argue these fault strains won’t be addressed by including in additional trainer coaching (which little doubt can even be primarily based on deficit considering), or extra funding of particular college locations, which the federal government continues to focus its efforts on. As an alternative, we have to begin with the folks for whom this actually issues – kids, younger folks and their households – and take heed to them, reasonably than extra posturing by parliamentarians who may have effected change, however appear to be fairly glad to face in parliament to determine the problems however then do little or no to handle them.


Alan Hodkinson (2023): The demise of the 2015 particular academic wants code of follow – and the parable of the drowning man – ought to authorities have learnt classes from listening to the voices of historical past, analysis and politicians? (Half I), Training 3-13,

Alan Hodkinson (2023a): The demise of the 2015 SENDCOP. Ought to authorities have learnt classes from listening to the voices of historical past, analysis, and politicians? (Half II), Training 3-13,

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