We are a national, grassroots organisation committed to advancing equality in education for children and young people with disabilities. We believe that the term 'special educational needs' is outdated and too often used as a term of abuse. We believe that too many children and young people are at risk of being failed by our 'SEN' system despite the fact that they are entitled to equality under the law. We believe that low-expectations of children and young people must be challenged. We believe that using the language of human rights empowers people and reminds decision-makers that individuals have rights which must not be violated. We believe that equality can only be achieved if there is effective access to and oversight by the courts, the First Tier Tribunal, by elected councillors and the Local Government Ombudsman.
We campaign for:
(i) children and young people with SEN to be seen as having educational rights not 'special needs'
(ii) the active promotion of equality rather than inclusion in our schools and local authorities
(ii) decisions about education to be based on evidence and made in the best interests of the child. All decisions must be made in accordance with the obligations of public law, including human rights law. Information sharing and discussion about children and young people should not take place without the child's/young person's/parent's consent, knowledge and inclusion.
(iv) parents', children and young people's views to be given equivalent legal status (statutory parity) to LAs' in decision-making
(v) the eradication of institutional and individual disability discrimination at every level of the education system based on a clear understanding and implementation of the Equality Act
(vi) effective methods of ensuring transparency, oversight and accountability for those making decisions about the education of children and young people. This includes ensuring there is access to justice when rights are breached.
Our campaigns will focus on three core issues: equality, accountability and oversight. This is because the Educational Rights Alliance believes that our children and young people must be treated equally and that effective accountability and oversight in our education system will help achieve this goal.
Our use of the term 'educational rights' was inspired by this fantastic paper by Dr Nick Hodge and Dr Katherine Runswick Cole - "Needs or rights? A challenge to the discourse of special education"