Retired but still kicking…

You will have noticed that I haven’t posted anything on here for a long time now. My last post was in 2012. Life became just too hectic to make this blog a real priority.

These have been turbulent times. Connexions across most of the country was shut down and almost all the very qualified and experienced careers advisers and employment assistants and support staff were made redundant. Clearly they weren’t redundant because the need for careers guidance has not gone away and neither have young people.

Some colleagues scrambled for favours from the schools they were working in and continued their profession as self-employed providers of increasingly less-independent careers advice. Others moved into other areas – projects helping unemployed adults into work, short-term youth support contracts, teaching yoga, working for charities. Some have not worked since.

My SEN team of 3.5 people was fortunate in that our borough recognised that it had a duty to vulnerable young people and we were transferred to the direct employment of the council’s Special Needs Assessment Section: a sort of high end admin section composed of special needs case managers and assistants led my a continuously stressed and exasperated – not to say exhausted – management in the invidious position of meeting the needs of pupils with disabilities whilst trying to stay within the budget and not setting expensive precedents whilst switching from the writing and delivery of Statements of SEN to the new child-centred Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) under the Children and Families Act.

My team provided independent, informed and impartial advice to young people and their parents about their careers and how to find their routes through the SEN maze to get their needs understood and met, get the best educational opportunities for them, get the right support from education, health and social services and to find their unique rewarding and successful way forward. These routes were sometimes not expensive as well as being logical and evidence-based. Even then they brought us into frequent conflict with the department into which we had been deposited, especially when a quick decision was required and even more so when the solution was expensive.

EHCPs might be child-centred but there is little evidence that Education Departments delivering them is. They try – sometimes with limited financial resources and other capacities – but are doomed to fail without a massive allocation of government resources that goes directly against government ideology.

I retired in August but I still follow events and may well have more to say (only now not fearing for my job…) So if you’ve been watching this space from time to time please continue to do so. I hope it will be illuminating and helpful. I hope I have the time.


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