Inclusion and SEND

Digital health - February 2019 

What is the context? The use of online technology, including social media, has grown at great speed. Teachers, parents, policy makers and children do not always fully understand the implications of this for young people’s relationships, safety, mental health and wellbeing. Neither do we know how the vast amounts of data being gathered on young people may be accessed and used, now or in the future. ASCL members want government and technology companies to do more to protect young people and to help them to develop and maintain good digital health.

ASCL position: Schools and colleges have a central role in teaching children and young people about positive digital health. We believe there is a need for a clear strategy to mitigate against the negative impacts of digital content and social media. These effects can be around wellbeing, mental health, safeguarding and privacy, both now and in the longer term.  

ASCL members believe that technology companies should be subject to minimum standards of age-appropriate design, with a mandatory code backed by an independent regulator.

Why are we saying this? ASCL surveyed 460 secondary school headteachers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in state and independent schools in January 2018. They were asked about the impact on pupils of social media use over the past 12 months. The results were stark and unequivocal, and included the following statistics:

  • 95% felt that the mental health and wellbeing of a proportion of their pupils had suffered as a result of social media use.

  • Almost all (459/460) had received reports of pupils being bullied on social media.

  • Almost all (457/460) had received reports of pupils encountering upsetting material on social media, such as sexual content, self-harm, bullying, or hate speech.

  • 89% had received reports of pupils being approached by strangers on social media sites.

  • 93% had received reports of pupils experiencing low self-esteem as a result of seeing idealised images and experiences on social media.

  • 96% had received reports of pupils missing out on sleep as a result of social media use.

  • 93% said that new laws and regulation should be introduced to ensure social media sites keep children safe

Mental health - February 2018

What is the context? This statement is in response to the Government’s green paper: Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision. It sits alongside our existing position statement on mental health. 

We welcome the green paper as an important step forward in tackling an issue which is a major and increasing concern to school and college leaders and note the recognition that schools and colleges are already doing a great deal to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people. There are, however, many questions left unanswered in the green paper. In particular we are concerned about whether the proposed new Mental Health Support Team (MHST) will be able to offer the right level of specialist help that students need.

ASCL positionWe are concerned the proposals to create mental health support teams for mild to moderate needs will not be helpful to schools who need additional support from clinically trained and well-qualified staff. This proposal could divert funds away from this important specialist provision. 

Why are we saying it? We believe that these new teams will not be successful in helping schools and colleges promote good mental health and, crucially, support students who need more specialist help unless the people employed within MHSTs are experienced and suitably trained and qualified to carry out this wide-reaching, complex role. It will also be essential that they have fast track access to specialist CAMHS and other support services and are fully supported by a fit-for-purpose, local, specialist mental health service. 

Admissions - February 2018

What is the context? School admissions are governed by the School admissions code which makes clear that oversubscription criteria must not discriminate against or disadvantage children with SEND. ASCL supports a peer approach to admissions shared with schools in the local area.

The School admissions code sets out specific provisions regarding the admission of pupils with SEND, looked after children, and those with medical conditions. An EHCP can name a particular school or college which must have been consulted prior to being named on the plan. 

This positon statement is to make clear the association's view on admissions and is included in the new ASCL Inclusion Know Zone. The Know Zone is a new page on our website which draws together the ASCL positions that relate to Inclusion and makes clear that we believe that inclusive practices and ethos must be positioned at the heart of school leadership. 

ASCL positionASCL encourages all schools to work together on admissions to meet the needs of all children and young people in their local area, however diverse their needs may be.

We believe that all schools, local authorities and other education providers should work in partnership to identify appropriate, named provision to meet the needs of all children.

Why are we saying it? ASCL encourages every school to be an inclusive school and to take a whole school approach to inclusion and SEND in its admissions policy. 

Until now there was no ASCL policy position on admissions.

Social mobility - October 2017

Once schools and colleges are funded at a sufficient level, they can, in conjunction with other partners, play a fuller part in improving social mobility by helping children and young people realise their full potential.

Education, Health and Wellbeing - October 2017

Schools and colleges have a central role in teaching children and young people about emotional health and well-being, mental health and resilience, alongside supporting them with these issues. Schools and colleges must also ensure that they signpost specialist services that are available and make appropriate referrals.

It is not the role of education to diagnose or treat mental health conditions. Diagnosis and treatment needs to be done by specialist professionals, who are appropriately trained, qualified and clinically supervised. This area of work needs to be adequately resourced to meet the needs of students before they become acute.

Schools and colleges are already accountable for personal development, welfare and safety of children and young people and should not be held accountable further for EHWB through inspection.

Education, Health and Wellbeing - June 2017

It is not the role of education to diagnose or treat mental health conditions. Diagnosis and treatment needs to be done by specialist professionals who are adequately trained, qualified and clinically supervised.

Schools are already accountable for the personal development, welfare and safety of children and young people and should not be held further accountable for EHWB through inspection.

PSHE and SRE - February 2017

Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, including sex and relationships education (SRE), is an important and necessary part of all pupils’ education. PSHE (including SRE) should be a statutory, but not prescriptive, part of children’s learning.

To allow schools the flexibility to deliver high-quality PSHE and SRE which meets the needs of their communities, we consider it unnecessary for the government to provide standardised frameworks or programmes of study. 

SEND and CPDL - February 2017

ASCL believes that: 

  • every teacher is a teacher of SEND

  • every leader is a leader of SEND

  • there needs to be a greater investment in the development of SEND CPDL that focuses on the expectation of all staff having a basic understanding of the key skills and knowledge necessary to ensure that every teacher is a teacher of SEND. This needs to be supported by the positioning of SEND at the heart of school leadership and not seeing it as the exclusive preserve of the SENCo

Response to government proposal on increasing selection - October 2016

ASCL wants all young people to succeed in order to realise their full potential and to create a workforce with the capacity and skills to enable the UK to thrive in a global economy.  We welcome the contribution all type of schools, colleges and universities can and do make to this through collaboration and partnership.  

The evidence we have seen does not support the premise that the further expansion of selection will improve education for the majority of young people. The evidence indicates that it will have a damaging impact on the life chances of the majority who do not attend a selective school.

The expansion of selection is a distraction to the profession’s efforts to ensure that the education system works for everyone.  

The best way to deliver a good school place for every child is to ensure existing schools and colleges have sufficient funding and access to a ready supply of high quality teachers and leaders.

Refugee children - July 2016

ASCL welcomes the opportunity to support any government initiative to increase the rights of all children, including refugees and asylum seekers, to the highest quality education. This must include sufficient funding and resources to support their specific needs.

Term-time holidays - July 2016

ASCL welcomes the DfE’s support for the Isle of Wight Council to contest the decision regarding term-time holidays. To support members in their decisionmaking we would welcome greater clarity on what constitutes 'exceptional circumstances'. ASCL would also welcome and support the introduction of more robust means-tested penalties as a deterrent. 

Alternative provision - July 2016

In a school led system, it is for each school to determine the curriculum that meets the needs of its students; this includes alternative provision. ASCL agrees that alternative provision for students should be of a high quality, and this should be determined by specialist staff and service providers. ASCL urges the government to ensure that there is equity of access to alternative provision regardless of location, specialists or facilities.

Emotional Health and wellbeing (EHWB) – July 2015

Schools accept the need to promote EHWB, but not to treat students (this is the remit of health professionals). Those treating young people for EHWB need adequate training, qualifications and clinical supervision. This area of work needs to be adequately resourced before the needs of students become acute.

SEN funding - October 2014

ASCL welcomes the greater clarity of the new SEND system and its potential to improve the life chances of those children with special needs and disabilities. In order to fulfil their new responsibilities, schools will need:

  • Clear and widely agreed methods for assessing the needs of SEND students and allocating resources

  • Simple and timely access to top up funding to meet the additional needs of High Need students

  • Notional SEN amounts in school budgets that are sufficient to provide for non-High Need SEND students

SEN funding – February 2014

ASCL is seriously concerned about the proxy indicators used in local formulas to distribute the high incidence low costs special needs funding. This leads to significant variability in the ability to meet need across the country. ASCL calls for consistency, clarity, predictability and security of funding for the most vulnerable students wherever they are educated.