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SecEd The ONLY weekly voice for secondary education Inside this issue

Cutting the future?

The impact that coalition economic policy is having on students, teachers and families

Who are the cuts hitting?

What is the

government still spending on?

What are the alternatives?

Cutting the

future? SecEd's latest supplement looks at the impact of the government's austerity measures on children, families and education, and considers the alternatives. The supplement is inside this edition or you can download it at

Tackling truancy

We visit Passmores Academy, made famous by the series Educating Essex, to find out how they have succeeded in tackling truancy Page 12

Behaviour advice

Behaviour expert Dr Bill Rogers offers advice on managing confrontations with argumentative or quarrelsome students Page 13

SecEdonline For regular news updates and our full editorial archive, visit You can also sign up to receive SecEddigital, a free regular e-bulletin which includes a virtual edition of SecEd by emailing Follow us on Twitter at www.

Pioneering SEN centre to close as funding is cut

A pioneering specialist centre for people who struggle to communicate is to become the latest casualty of government cuts. The ACE Centre in Oxford

which supports thousands of children, young people and adults in central and southern England, will close at the end of June unless it can guarantee to raise £150,000 for its running costs for the next year and similar amounts for the subsequent two or three years. Trustees blame government

funding cuts, both directly and through local councils which can no longer afford to make referrals to the centre. For 30 years, the ACE Centre has

pioneered bespoke programmes for people who require Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) provision and are unable to communicate without the help of assistive technology, to enable them to access learning or proceed with their day-to-day lives. It estimated that more than

5,000 people had been helped directly since it was set up in the early 1980s, and more than 20,000 have sought advice or training from its team of experts. A similar centre based in Oldham, Lancashire, is unaffected by the developments. The Oxford centre is one of

many special needs providers to have been affected by spending cuts to special needs budgets. All over the country, services are being cut as local authorities are being forced to make drastic savings. Lorraine Petersen, chief

executive of the special needs charity, nasen, said: “The ACE Centre is just one of a number of

services that are closing or reducing their provision as budget cuts take hold. In 2011 the National Year of Communication, Hello – the Communications Trust – highlighted the importance and economic benefits of providing services to improve children and young adult’s communication skills. “For many children and young

adults a communication aid is their gateway to a full and proper life. Can we honestly say that denying them a voice is a budgetary decision that is right and proper?” More widely, Ms Petersen said

that a vacuum is being created as local authorities cast services adrift due to funding pressures. Speaking in the SecEd

supplement Cutting the Future?, published this week (see left for details), she said: “At the moment there remains enough expertise in the system to ensure that pupils who need special needs support still get it. But my fear is what will happen in the future when schools are forced to buy in these services in private arrangements.” Bill Nimmo, chairman of the

trustees, said the ACE Centre was another casualty of government cuts. He added: “Along with hundreds of other charities and specialist services across the country, it has seen funds used to support the 260,000 children and adults in the UK who require AAC provision reduced or withdrawn. “The reason for closure is a

reduction in the income from assessment services. This is, to some degree, a result of the financial pressure that schools and local authorities are under, coupled with a lack of sufficient funding from government sources to cover

Photo-finish: Less than a tenth of a second separated the top two teams at the British Schools Karting Championship this month. Karting is growing in popularity in schools across the UK and the Championship saw 617 teams and a total of 1,850 students battling it out. See page 2 for more.


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the infrastructure costs of running a small, highly specialised centre of expertise. “We have started to talk to a few

Mr Nimmo wants the centre

companies for which all or part of £150,000 may not seem like such a large amount of money, but the reality is that we must also look at negotiating with other providers to see whether they can take on part of our services and deliver existing contracts so that the people who rely on us are not missing out. “We also need to ensure that we

do not lose forever the expertise that exists in this crucial area of special needs.”

to continue for another two to three years, or until a time when government plans to set up a network of centres of excellence that would radiate out services come to fruition. “Until this happens everyone is operating in a bit of a vacuum,” he added. The centre, which has

restructured its operations twice in the last couple of years in an attempt cut costs, will close to the public on May 1 as it prepares to wind down. It will close its doors for the final time on the last day of June.

• See page 6: Editor's comment.

Issue 314 • April 19 2012 Price £1.00

Closure to leave thousands without vital specialist support By Dorothy Lepkowska

Clare Malone, 22, has a form of

cerebral palsy that severely affects her speech and motor skills and was supported by the centre from the age of four. Her mother Jenny told SecEd:

“We are going to lose all of that expertise and people like my daughter who require specialist support to access education and normal day-to-day living will not be able to meet their potential in life.” A petition to save the centre can

be found at

UK news  SecEd: On Your Side  Indpendent thinking  NQT diary  Union address  Managing ICT  At the chalkface

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