WHAT WE WANT THE GOVERMENT TO DO
At the time of writing in May 2013 these are the things we consider need to happen to Elluminate the lives of many of the most in need in Northern Ireland.
1. Recognition by the Department of Education, ELBs and C2K that this issue is urgent. Whatever the wonderful aspirations they planned for C2K as additional added value for those children in and able to stay in school, the priority must be given to those children who are out of school and out of mind and getting little or no education. There are today real young people, real lives, real needs, right now. Elluminate for those in need has been blocked for over nine months now. We need it opened up and made available urgently. Each day and month is an important one in a child's education. Elluminate is a vital connection for those most in need. We need the government that gave this £170 million of tax paying parent’s money to make meeting the needs of young people in need, often with disabilities it’s No 1 priority.
2. Tell people about it. Parents and young people need to know what Elluminate is, how it works and how to access it. Most teachers asked locally knew nothing about it, were suspicious of it and did not understand how it worked. An urgent bulletin needs to go to all teachers explaining it, how it works and that there are no child protection issues with its use – otherwise they can’t offer it to a child who needs it. All organisations who may have contact or provide support to those in need, should be made aware of the facility immediately. All relevant people for example; GP's social workers, CAMHS, paediatricians, educational psychologists, EOTAS, EWOs, in patient mental health facilities, police, youth justice, disability support organisations, autism support groups, probation services, Extern, youth workers, care homes for children in care, organisations supporting travelling communities, those currently networked with home educators such as HEDNI and Education Otherwise and anyone else who may be a point of contact for a young person who may be unable to attend school. Schools themselves need to be directed to tell parents and young people who are having difficulty attending school about the facility.
3. The NASUWT or any other union is not responsible for providing education for children, the Education and Library Boards are and need to provide according to our children's needs. Even if teachers in NASUWT continue to block in an individual school, an internet link for a child could be provided from any computer anywhere in the UK following the same curriculum. Other private costly internet schools have students all over the UK. This would allow young people needing access to education now to get it immediately. There are options via internet to provide access to those in need, the teacher could be anywhere, consideration could be given to how home tuition service could blend with this however aptitudes of young people should also be considered if moving out of current school / level. Interim measures should be given urgent consideration if some board areas or schools are lagging skills resources or commitment to the needs of the most vulnerable children. Eg a maths teacher could be in any board for the GCSE students in need. However, for continuity, and practical reasons, concerning learning resources, a child should be able to link to their normal local classroom they are registered with. Teachers should be open and transparent about their time with our children in the classroom and should want to extend learning opportunity to a child unable to be in school via this e learning opportunity. It should be about the child’s needs, that is what they are employed for and paid for, and that is their legal obligation, to adjust to the child’s needs and educate all our children equally so they are not disadvantaged by illness, or disability, or being unable to manage the school system.
4. Currently the decision of how Elluminate is deployed rests at school level. Given the widespread needs of vulnerable young people across every area of Northern Ireland and the spend of £170 million of tax payers’ money, no school should be able to opt out of facilitating Elluminate or have a veto on education for those young people most in need.
5. We want the government to appoint a Department of Education official, trained in special needs, who can understand and act as a point of contact for parents of the children in need who are encountering obstacles in accessing Elluminate in their local area. This person should co-ordinate access and ensure all those in need are able to access education for their child. It should be their job to work with ELBs data to identify children not in school, contact them informing of this opportunity for their children. Ideally this role could eventually be then developed for early identification of those in distress and at risk of leaving school early so all solutions, including Elluminate, resources at www.livesinthebalance.org and changes in school environments, can be considered so all children get the best chance to get their education without major trauma, gaps or disruption - currently endured by 1000s of children in Northern Ireland. We are aware of families with children with autism who cannot cope with school currently being pursued by EWOs taking court action. EWOs who have no understand of autism and no one is being offered Elluminate as a solution, even though ICT Inclusion / video conferencing / C2k are recommended if a child cannot attend school. This is in DENI’s own resource for SENCOs as referred to below under additional information. This is inexcusable cruelty on the families and carers of vulnerable children.
6. We are aware that there are parents who have de-registered their child as a last resort, and who strive to provide the NI curriculum for their child. It is the right of parents at any time to return their de-registered child to the school of their choice (thereby registering him/her again) and it is our submission that DENI should allow parents to opt to be re-registered as a pupil of Elluminate if they should wish. This would not include any programme of early re-introduction to a named school but be accepted as a longer term arrangement where the child received education through Elluminate at home for as long as needed. We would consider that it would be necessary to put safeguards in place to ensure that parents who wish to remain as full home educators and keep their child de-registered would not be adversely affected, for example by pressures to register for Elluminate , and/or adopt the NI Curriculum. Many parents who have chosen home education for children, whether ASD diagnosed or not, do so because they have a particular therapeutic programme or philosophical approach, they wish to follow and under NI and EU law it is their right to do so. We trust DENI will ensure those who de-registered, young people and parents will be given full knowledge and choice on Elluminate.
7. Representative parents from Elluminate Ourlives campaign who understand the needs of their children wish to be facilitated in the development, problem solving re Elluminate so it works well for the children most in need. Children who need this service should also be involved in some form of consultation regarding it. All of this should be on-going whilst it is rolled out ASAP even in an interim measure.
Please click on the link below 'UK Statutory Guidance' this document 'Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs' Says young people should have FULL and EQUAL Acess within 15 days. GPs alone should be enough to trigger so no more long waits for professionals or statements. We need this adopted as Statutory Guidance immediatly and preferably eventually become law so no one can ignore a child in need.