Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 5

Memorandum from SCOPE (EYF 08)

  Scope welcomes the Government's response to the Select Committee's report. We have a number of comments which are listed below and correspond to the numbers in the report.

  2.  Scope is pleased that the importance of parental participation is well recognised. We do however have some concerns that not all parents want to or are able to have the level of involvement envisaged.

  Consideration also needs to be given to enabling parental participation. For example some disabled parents may need additional support to become fully involved. The ``further targeted resources available to support specific work to support parents in the education and development of their children'' are therefore welcomed by Scope.

  3.  Parents of disabled children are often the people who are best aware of their child's capabilities, but this is not always the case and it is important to ensure that children and other professionals are fully involved.

  4.  Scope strongly supports Government's commitment to ensuring providers of health, education and social care should work together more closely to provide better support. This is particularly important at early years age; it is common experience for young disabled children and their families to experience unnecessary delays in assessment and identification of need as a result of lack of co-ordination, and therefore delay in ensuring appropriate educational provision.

  9.  Scope welcomes the Government's commitment to joined up policies, and is keen to see such policies being made to work in practice at a local level which will directly benefit disabled children and their families.

  We are pleased that there is to be research into best practice for younger children from birth to three and would be happy to advise or to be otherwise involved.

  Whilst it is important to focus on children in disadvantaged areas it is also important to focus on children in other areas; particularly disabled children and children with special educational need. We are concerned that an overemphasis on disadvantaged areas may be developing.

  10.  Scope believes that if child poverty is to be eradicated it is important to ensure that the focus on the life chances of children from birth to the age of four living in the most disadvantaged areas of England is widened. Many families experience financial hardship as a result of the additional costs associated with disability. For example, as the government recognises, the cost of childcare for disabled children is higher than for other children (DTI Green Paper, December 2000, Work and Parents—competitiveness and choice). There are also various estimates which indicate that the overall cost of bringing up a child with significant disabilities is significantly higher, £125,000 higher than the average of £37,400 (The cost of childhood disability, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, July 1998). We wish to remind Government tht the extra costs of disability often lead to poverty regardless of where people live.

  Scope welcomes the increase in Sure Start funding, and the increased investment in other early years initiatives.

  12. We welcome the commitment to using Early Excellence Centre evaluation evidence in order to identify and disseminate good practice. We hope that such evaluations include evaluation of the impact for disabled children and their families.

  14.  In terms of the informal teaching of children below compulsory school age, as mentioned above, difficulties and long time delays often occur in identifying and assessing the needs of disabled children under the age of five; this hinders the provision of appropriate teaching. Futher problems often occur as a result of the length of time the statementing process takes for those children requiring a statement. In practice this can mean that a child doesn't begin to receive appropriate support until well after their fifth birthday.

  17.  In relation to the requirements for Initial Teacher Training we would like to see training on disability awareness becoming a compulsory unit for early years teachers.

  38.  The commitment of financial resources for training is very welcome. Scope particularly welcomes the commitment of funds for training for the foundation stage, including the four days training which will cover the identification and assessment of children with special educational needs.

  Scope also warmly welcomes the funding to support the recent Green Paper, Schools: Building on Success.

  28.  In relation to outdoor play Scope believes that any improvements to outdoor play facilities must be ones which ensure that facilities are fully accessible to all children.

  35.  Scope welcomes the forthcoming publication, by the Early Years National Training Organisation, of a good practice guide to encourage employers to recruit more people with disabilities.

  52.  Scope recognises and welcomes the size of the overall financial investment in early years. We also recognise that it will take time to expand services and train people.

  Scope is pleased that the Select Committee's report and the Government's response represent important steps towards progress in the area of early years education, and we would be happy to be involved in the further development of early years initiatives. If you have any queries please do not hesitate to get in touch.

April 2001


 
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