Celebrating new legislation on Special Educational Needs

I went to a reception at the Department for Children, Schools and Families last week for a special reception. I knew it was going to be my kind of party when I saw they were serving Pringles. As a child, I was reknowned all around Leicestershire for my ability to eat a whole tub of Pringles in one go.

Anyhow, the purpose of the reception was to celebrate the passing of the Special Educational Needs (Information) Act. This is the piece of legislation, which I’ve blogged about a few times before, that will require the Government to collect more information about children with special educational needs do at school and was spearheaded by Sharon Hodgson MP. For deaf children, it’s an important development. If we don’t measure how deaf children are doing, how can we improve it? As the legislation was making its way through Parliament, we worked hard to lobby MPs to support the Bill.

Attending were a range of charities who had supported and lobbied for the Bill, Sharon Hodgson herself, Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, and the new Minister for SEN – Sarah McCarthy Fry.

Sarah was still only around 3 days into the job so we were not expecting her to talk at length about the Act and what will happen in practice going forward – but she did say a few encouraging words about how there was no reason why disabled children should not be doing better. Which is exactly the point at the heart of our Close the Gap campaign. Sharon Hodgson also took the opportunity to thank NDCS and all other charities that had supported the Bill – which was very nice of her.

It was a good opportunity to meet everyone and find out what’s happening next on a range of things. I did unfortunately get slightly starstruck when meeting Ed Balls. And I was even more lost for words when Sharon Hodgson gave me a peck on the cheek as I was leaving. Clearly, I’m not as cool as I thought…

Going forward though, we’ll be keeping an eye out on the Act and making sure it is used to produce lots of useful data about deaf children. And, as for me, I’m going to be trying to wean myself off my addiction to Pringles all over again.


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