A Right not a Fight
You can now find out everything you need to know about our campaign on our new website http://www.rightnotafight.co.uk . Activities, meetings, press comments and progress will all appear on this site in the future. Look out for information about ambassador training and Manchester events soon.
June 17th saw a double launch for Natspec – publication of our new directory, and the first event in our students’ campaign ‘A Right not a Fight’. The campaign calls for students with a learning difficulty or disability to have the same choices that most young people take for granted, such as choosing a further education college that best meets their learning and support needs.
The blue sky and the Houses of Parliament formed the perfect backdrop for the London event. Over 80 students and parents from 12 national specialist colleges – Derwen, Fortune, Foxes, Mount Camphill, Nash, National Star, New College Worcester, Oakwood Court, QAC, Royal National College for the Blind, Treloar’s and Young Epilepsy – assembled, wearing their ‘A Right not a Fight’ t-shirts. They chanted, held banners aloft, handed leaflets to passers-by and talked to MPs and peers who came to listen to their stories. It was a really empowering and
positive experience for everyone. Rhys George, a student from Oakwood Court College, Devon, was at the event and said: “Going to Oakwood College has allowed me to live life to the extreme and actually make something of my life.”
A further 30 students from 6 colleges: Bridge College, Communication College Doncaster, Langdon College, Portland College and Seashell College, gathered at a second event at Bridge College in Manchester, learning Makaton signs related to the campaign. Students, staff and parents also sang and signed campaign message songs and created banners with messages about the fantastic opportunities available at specialist colleges, which were displayed around the outside the college for passers-by to see.
Parents attending the event at Bridge were equally keen to voice their concerns over a lack of information, the slow pace of decision making and extensive funding delays, saying: “as a parent you want people to listen to and see the person your child is, it shouldn’t all come down to money’, another parent added: “it shouldn’t matter where you live and what your postcode is, the system should be fair.’
Alison Boulton, Chief Executive of Natspec, explains: ‘we want to see the Children and Families Act working in the best interests of young people and ensuring that local authorities listen to their views and wishes – but so far the signs are not good. Too many young people are not told about all their options, and even if they are asked what they want, their views are frequently ignored’.
Why have we launched ‘A Right not a Fight‘
Every day we hear from young people and their families who are desperate for information. They want to know how to get the education and resources that they need, how to find answers to their questions and why every step on their journey has to be a fight.
For over two years Natspec and specialist colleges, along with parents’ groups, other charities and organisations such as the Association of Colleges, have been working on a new legislation, the Children and Families Act. We have been talking to government to help them to understand the very real concerns of our young people and to make sure that the Act means that every young person can get the education they deserve.
The Act will come in to effect in September but there is still work to be done. It will take time for the changes to filter through to every part of the country. In the meantime young people with some of the most complex needs are missing out.
They tell us that they are not allowed to attend the college of their choice, that they are denied support and that they feel as if barriers are put in their way at every turn.
|For example one Local Authority policy states that:For each individual post 16 High Needs placement, we must follow a process of looking at mainstream options in GFE colleges first, then LA maintained Special Schools, if these local options cannot meet the needs, we would look for an independent school or college day placement.|
Parents tell us they are not even allowed to visit specialist colleges
|We have twice arranged and then cancelled visits to an outstanding specialist college. Both times we were at first discouraged and then, subsequently warned off attempting to send our daughter there as we were told by the LA she would not get funding for ‘out of county’ education as her needs can be adequately met locally. We stumbled on ‘Specialist Colleges’ almost by accident. The LA seems determined that we should forget them”.|
Some of the students who have succeeded in getting their place at a specialist college have come up with a name for their campaign for true equality in education – A Right not a Fight
- Download A Right not a Fight Leaflet
- Natspec Student Conference
- A Right not a Fight: Powerpoint presentation by Kathryn Rudd