Support services under review

I called in at the headquarters of NASEN last week. It was a hive of activity with administrative staff working on a number of tasks.

The last few copies of NASEN's millennium newspaper about working together and building a better future, which was sent to every school in the country, were stacked in a corner of the membership office. Here, Jean Glass was busy dealing with the steady flow of new membership enquiries that had resulted from the newspaper.

Next door, I found Dee French putting together the programme details for the four regional conferences on the future roles for special schools that will be taking place during September in London, Bristol, Leeds and Newcastle. These conferences will be jointly run by the Department for Education and Employment and NASEN and will see the launch by Jacqui Smith, Minister responsible for Special Education, of the DFEE's CD-Rom Connect to Better Partnerships: SpecialMainstream Links. Each local education authority has been invited to send three people to one of these conferences with a follow-up day devoted to the use of the CD-Rom within each LEA. Sounds interesting.

Clare Davies and Janine Parry were starting to put together the first mail shot of information about Special Needs London, the largest SEN exhibition in the country, which will take place at the Business Design Centre in Islington from November 2-4. Once again, the range of exhibitors is extensive and the seminar topics look very interesting. I asked for a copy, but was told I would receive it, along with all other members in September.

I did pick up a copy of the NASENDFEE jointly commissioned interim report, Rethinking Support for More Inclusive Schooling. The research focuses on the contribution of SEN support services in the light of the Government's SEN programme of action. The first phase, involving a questionnaire to all English LEAs, is now complete and there is an analysis of the findings. Data indicates varying patterns of support, a trend towards greater delegation, significant structural changes and a wide range of alternative sources of funding and provision. The study is also looking at evaluation approaches and the effects of various Government initiatives. The next phase of the research will involve looking at three LEAs in more detail. It intends to get a closer view of how SEN support services are contributing to local developments in inclusion and how successful LEAs are at addressing the balance between decreased central funding and increased school responsibility. A summary of the findings will be available in November.

The International Special Education Congress 2000 takes place in Manchester from July 24-28 and NASEN members are giving a number of symposia. As one of the major sponsors, NASEN will have a stand and will be aim-ing to recruit more overseas members.


Anne Fowlie is honorary national treasurer of the National Association for Special Educational Needs, 4-5 Amber Business Village, Amington, Tamworth, Staffs B77 4RP. Tel: 01827 311500. E-mail: Website:

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