Society is constantly evolving and issues of equality, justice and rights still dominate discussions and policy. Much legislation relating to Special Educational Needs has made positive steps towards inclusion. Here you will find professional articles on policy and its effect on pupils, teachers and schools.

The rulings of two recent legal cases indicate that a pupil’s attitude and application will now be key in assessing educational negligence claims, writes Mark Blois

SENCO Update reports a framework for local authorities that contextualises SEN/LDD issues within the five outcomes of Every Child Matters will be helpful to SENCOs

At times the collaborative partnership process for SENCOs and senior leaders in schools can be challenging and time consuming. Rita Cheminais looks at how to establish effective partnerships, and describes a new ECM self-evaluation tool that will help to strengthen partnership working

Legal Surgery answers a question about exclusion of a violent pupil who has SEN

Question: How must a local authority assess the special educational needs of a child in its area? What is the extent of the duty?

A useful update on the current law regarding discrimination is provided by Patti Turner

SENCOs who may be involved with pupils facing the possibility of exclusion should be aware that the latest guidance on procedure is now available online. With some changes in official advice this makes it an appropriate time for SENCOs to consider school policies in relation to arrangements for pupils with special educational needs and pupils with disabilities.

QUESTION: What considerations should we apply when considering permanent exclusion of a pupil with special educational needs?

The House of Commons Education and Skills Select Committee undertook a major review of special education in 2005-2006 and published a report that asked the government to clarify its policy on inclusive education. This article summarises the questions that the Select Committee asked, outlines the government response to these, and provides a brief analysis of this response.

A new report confirms that joined-up working has been a positive and significant experience for the majority of those involved.

For any SENCO looking at how SEN is defined, identified and assessed in her own local education authority and elsewhere, it soon becomes apparent that the identification and assessment of SEN is not only complex but confused. Michael Farrell suggests that SENCOs can contribute to clarifying our understandings of SEN.

Recently published research by a team based at the University of Cambridge highlights the efforts of teachers and other staff in schools to develop inclusive educational practice. At the same time, it provides evidence that these efforts are unsustainable in the long term, and that a national review of policy and practice is required.

In addition to its specific recommendations concerning SENCOs, the Education Select Committee has outlined a future strategy on special educational needs. The government’s response will have many implications for the work of SENCOs

In a new memorandum, the DfES has outlined three key principles that underpin its approach to improving SEN provision in England. The application of these principles is summarised in this article with reference to the Education and Skills Select Committee of Inquiry into SEN.

During the last oral evidence session of the House of Commons Education and Skills Select Committee of Inquiry into Special Educational Needs (22 March 2006), Lord Adonis, parliamentary under-secretary of state with responsibility for SEN, responded to a wide range of questions about current and future developments in SEN policy in England.

The important issue regarding the professional status of SENCOs was raised during the Select Committee of Inquiry (SEN) oral evidence sessions held on 8 March 2005.

The Implementation Review Unit (IRU) reviewed progress made towards reducing bureaucracy and paperwork associated with special educational needs policy, practice and provision in its second annual report published in July 2005. The report noted that despite positive recommendations made by the Cabinet Office/DfES review of SEN, efforts to support schools in reducing bureaucracy had not had much impact. This article outlines key areas identified in the report, where change can impact positively on the work of schools, and the role that local authorities can play in supporting them.

The Children Act 2004 insists that agencies should work together to ensure that all children benefit from the five outcomes outlined within it. One of these outcomes, that relating to educational assessment and achievement, is already catered for in the statutory framework for SEN, but education lawyer Amelia Wallington argues that with the integration of children’s services there should be a more joined-up and multi-agency approach to assessing educational needs.

In tackling educational disadvantage by personalised learning, the government should have strong regard to children with special educational needs, according to a report from the parliamentary select committee on education.

The House of Commons Education and Skills Committee concludes its evidence gathering on 22 March 2006. In addition to hearing further oral evidence, the committee will review written memoranda and undertake a number of related visits within the UK.

In a letter to chief education officers and directors of children’s services (12 January 2006), secretary of state for education and skills, Ruth Kelly, has called upon local authorities to act upon problems associated with SEN-related bureaucracy.

The DfES is currently undertaking a consultation about the development of quality standards for SEN support and outreach services with a strong focus on strengthening inclusion.

The parliamentary Education and Skills Committee began to hear oral evidence in its inquiry into special educational needs on 31 October. The first session included evidence from Baroness Warnock, in which she expressed her views on the role of SENCOs and teaching assistants.

The House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, one of a number of the house’s select committees, started its inquiry into special educational needs at the beginning of October.

Amelia Wallington reflects, on the basis of her own work as a solicitor working in the field of education law, on recent debates about the SEN framework and whether or not it is helping children, parents, or professionals. Her call for legislative change adds weight to the view that the government is wrong to think that the framework can continue to provide an effective means of meeting children’s special educational needs.

Education for young people in secure settings is undergoing radical change. Further work is being undertaken to ensure that educational opportunities in custody are comparable to those in the community.

Following the launch of Mary Warnock’s pamphlet on special educational needs policy, and her call for an urgent review of it (June 29), a flurry of political debate took place in both houses of parliament before the summer recess.