Why should you join the FLSE... or re-new your membership for that matter?
One of our key goals has always been to ensure that the ‘Collective Voice’ of our members is heard and that any issues and concerns you have are indeed raised and discussed with the key policy makers.
Effectively, this means ensuring that the FLSE achieves another of its goals, which is to be a forum for communication, and to facilitate this activity between our members themselves, and between our members and the key decision makers and policy makers within education.
Everything we continue to do is about promoting the aims of the FLSE and being able to communicate more effectively with our members, as well as seeking their (your) input into everything we do, which will always be for the benefit of others.
To enable this, we have substantially improved our methods of communication – starting with the launch of our new website early in 2010.
The website is a true 'Work in Progress' and entails an ongoing development programme in itself such that it is evolving into a true ‘portal of information’, providing our members with far greater access to information about special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and overall what is happening in the world of special education.
We’re not there yet, but as I said, it’s an evolving programme, and with your help and continued support, we will be able to carry on this work on your behalf.
Hopefully, you have already taken the opportunity to have a good look, but currently the website provides:
- News - All the latest news and updates from the SEND sector, as well from the education world in general
- Blogs – not just from the FLSE, but also from Ofsted, NAHT and I CAN… with more to follow
- DfE Consultations - Automatic feed on latest consultations coming from the DfE, with the opportunity for you, as a member of the FLSE, to provide your feedback on these
- Document Bank – A wealth of information provided by the FLSE, our members, and other organisations – which is all about sharing information – and we need more from you, our members
- Feedback Area – Giving you the opportunity to leave your feedback on a variety of current topics and consultations eg: Salt report, Lamb Inquiry, Teachers Pay and Conditions
- Links – A continually growing databank of statutory bodies, SEND organisations and professional bodies, as well as links to many other organisations
- Regions – Information on all the FLSE regions around the country. For example we have new Chairs in the East Midlands, West Midlands and Yorks and Humberside regions, thus capitalising on the good work that has already been achieved, and ensuring that this continues
- Forum – one of our next developments… coming soon
We are now providing weekly news updates to all our members… with all the current news from the education world, including from the DfE, Ofsted, the NAHT and others, as well as (of course) from the FLSE
Working with others…
Much of our work is all about developing a closer working relationship with many of the other professional bodies and associations within special education.
Four times a year we hold a SEND Conference - a key discussion forum to initiate greater collaboration between all major organisations and the leaders and practitioners of special education in order to build better services for those with special educational needs and disabilities. This forum includes representatives from the FLSE, as well as senior officers from nasen, BATOD, SSAT, Engage (formerly NAES), PRUs, NAHT, Hays Education, Hospital Schools and SWALSS, and also senior representatives from the SEND Division of the DfE.
The ultimate objective of course is to understand how we can work more closely together for the greater good, and ensure that we identify where closer cooperation and collaboration on key SEN issues and activities will provide a greater opportunity to enact change, particularly when working collectively rather than independently.
We have initiated six monthly reviews with Ofsted, meeting with Christine Gilbert and Janet Thompson, to discuss current activities and issues, school inspections, and many other matters. This is our opportunity to raise questions put to us from our membership. Recent discussions have included:
- 3 year inspections for special schools (as opposed to 5 years for mainstream)
- School inspections - data and analysis
- SEN Review
- Ofsted survey reports
We have just had our most recent meeting at Ofsted, (details of which will soon be posted on the FLSE website), and the next review is scheduled for July 2011.
Department for Education (DfE)
We are also currently looking to initiate regular reviews with the Department for Education, particularly with Sarah Teather, the Children’s Minister who has responsibility for SEN.
In consultation with our members and the DfE, clearly ‘cuts’ pose the biggest possible threat for many of our member's schools, and everyone is aware of the new dictate of 'more for less'!
The government has already announced major cutbacks and we know that Becta will be closed by November 2010, and other bodies such as the QCDA, and National Curriculum will also cease to exist. National Strategies we knew was going in 2011 anyway. Other organisations such as the National College and CWDC have also seen significant budget cuts.
We will be working in close consultation with the government and our members on the 'hot' topics of the day, which currently include:
- Cancellation of the BSF programme - and how this affects many member's schools
- The new schools building programme - and what this actually means - and to whom
- Free Schools
- Comprehensive Spending Review
- Schools White Paper
- SEND Green Paper
Again, as with all reviews we hold with both policy makers and the inspectorate, this gives us the opportunity to speak on behalf of our members – to raise their (your) questions, issues and concerns, and elicit responses, but most importantly ensure that these bodies now recognise that the FLSE is the focal point and spokesperson of many schools around the country, and that we do now have a 'collective' powerful voice.
SEND Green Paper 2011
As part of our 'working with others' campaign, the FLSE initiated a quorum of other SEND organisations which included Nasen, NAHT and SSAT to come together to hold a SEND Green Paper Summit Conference where invited delegates were able to to discuss the SEND Green Paper when it was launched in March 2011.
This event was a great success as it provided delegates with the opportunity to meet with other leading practitioners from the world of special education and it provided them with a forum for discussion and consultation on matters arising from the content of the Green Paper that will now be fed back to the DfE as part of their four month consultation process.
A key part of the FLSE in the future will be to work with a variety of organisations in order to be able to offer our members a range of services that would be both of interest and benefit to their schools.
A number of companies have already been approached and more detailed discussions are underway, and we hope to be making some announcements on this in the near future.
All our activities have one principal objective, which is to raise the profile and awareness of the FLSE, develop greater co-operation and collaboration with the statutory education bodies and other professional organisations and associations within the SEND sector, and continue to attract new members to the Federation.
There is so much going on at the moment, but it’s all about one thing, and one thing alone – COMMUNICATION!
Ensuring that we communicate more effectively with our members, and provide them with the means to communicate more effectively with us – so that we are truly able to engage with our members and ensure that your voice is heard by the very people that need to hear it. Only then can we begin to enact change.
But to do this, and everything else we want to do, requires your continued support through membership of the FLSE.
Moving forward, we will continue to assess other opportunities to increase our profile, attract funding, increase our membership, and give the FLSE the credibility and position it needs to fulfil its role within special education.
If you have any questions you would like to raise, then please do let us know by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to receiving your application, and to working closely with you and your school or SEND service in the future.