Commenting on the publication of the special needs Green Paper 'Support and aspiration', Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union, said:
"Beyond the rhetoric and hype accompanying the publication of the Green Paper, the key message appears to be that the Coalition Government believes that there are too many children and young people classified as having special needs.
"The evident danger is that the Coalition Government is seeking to redefine what constitutes special needs. In the context of an austerity programme, this can only mean that fewer children will qualify for additional support.
"The reform of critical support for children and young people with special needs is being proposed at a time when the Health Service is being plunged into the chaos of reorganisation, the free market is being introduced into schools and massive cuts and job loss are being faced by essential services.
"Decisions are being taken in relation to reform of the funding system that could lead to SEN being sidelined, as the Coalition Government has not commissioned any detailed work on the funding of such provision.
"Reliance on the voluntary sector is once again rife in these proposals. This is fanciful at a time when voluntary organisations are struggling for their own survival.
"This Green Paper will not give confidence to those parents who have children currently on the special needs register. It will simply create anxiety and fear that they may no longer qualify for support.
"If this Green Paper is genuinely about seeking to meet the needs of children with SEN and disability rather than about cuts, then the Coalition Government must demonstrate it willingness to have an open and honest debate on this complex and critical issue."
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