The government has finally admitted that it failed to assess the impact on disabled children and young people of its “discriminatory” plans to expand grammar schools in England.The Department for Education (DfE) has previously refused to say if it carried out an equality impact assessment (EIA) on its consultation paper, Schools That Work For Everyone, which includes plans to remove the ban on opening new grammar schools in England.The consultation paper fails to include a single mention of disabled children and young people.Inclusive education campaigners say that expanding grammar schools – secondary schools which select pupils via an entrance test – will discriminate against disabled children and lead to more segregated education in special schools.Laws currently ban any new selective schools and prevent existing non-selective schools from becoming selective, but the government wants to expand existing grammar schools, create new selective schools and allow non-selective schools to become selective.A DfE response to a freedom of information request submitted by Disability News Service (DNS) last November insisted that the department was continuing to have “due regard” to the equalities impact of its plans, but refused to say whether it had carried out an EIA.After that response was challenged by DNS, the government has now finally admitted that it failed to carry out an EIA of its grammar school plans.The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) was highly critical of the failure to carry out an EIA, and said the government’s plans would impact on “any disabled young person who struggles with how learning is currently tested”.Tara Flood (pictured), ALLFIE’s director, said the plans would have a “fundamental impact” and were not “just a small tweaking of the edges of the educational system”.She said: “This is about elitism and increased inequality and they didn’t think that an impact assessment would be a very useful element of their strategy.“This is really about saying that disabled children and young people with special educational needs just don’t figure in their plans, except for greater numbers going into special provision.”She said the consultation paper reflected the government’s current position of “absolute denial” of the impact of its reforms, and its continuing commitment to the pledge made by Tory MP Michael Gove in 2009 that a Conservative government would rebuild the special school sector.The government’s existing education policies over the last six years have led to a steady increase in the number of disabled children being educated in special schools, says ALLFIE.Flood said: “They are only really concerned about what they consider to be the group of pupils who are able to learn in a robust and standards-driven system.”ALLFIE believes the government’s plans are a clear breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with new UN guidance – through a “general comment”, adopted last August – making it clear that all segregated education should end and be replaced by “inclusive classroom teaching in accessible learning environments with appropriate supports”.Flood said: “Everything is in denial of the UN convention, the general comment and any kind of understanding about how equality can be achieved.”She called on campaigners concerned about the government’s plans to contact ALLFIE and “help us build a real resistance to the government’s plans to find more ways to remove disabled children and young people from the [mainstream] system”.She said there was a “groundswell of support building” for opposition to the government’s plans, and that ALLFIE’s campaigning was helping to persuade mainstream campaigners who oppose expanding grammar schools that this would also have a substantial impact on disabled children and young people.There are currently 163 grammar schools in England, educating about five per cent of state secondary pupils, while 10 local authorities have wholly selective education systems and another 26 have one or more grammar schools in their area.Disabled children with education, health and care plans (EHCPs) or statements of special educational needs represent only 0.1 per cent of grammar school pupils, despite making up 1.8 per cent of the secondary school population, while disabled children without statements or EHCPs still make up only 4.2 per cent of grammar school pupils, but 12.4 per cent of all secondary school pupils.
RUGBY League World Cup 2013 has teamed up with your Saints to take over the Liverpool One centre this Saturday.Join us for an action-packed day of Rugby League activities and the opportunity to cheerlead at this autumn’s tournament.It all kicks off at 10am with fun inflatable activities and the Official Rugby League World Cup 2013 Mascot Grubber.The famous Rugby League World Cup 2013 Trophy will also be present and visitors are invited to take a closer look at one of world sport’s most famous pieces of silverware.Meanwhile, RLWC2013 Cheerleading Team co-ordinator Sarah Elston has been scouting across the UK for talented dancers who want be cheerleaders for this autumn’s tournament.Boys as well as girls are being encouraged to audition, as long as they are confident dance performers, aged over 16, and turn up dressed to impress!Members of Saints first team will also be in attendance, along with Boots and the trio will be providing information about the Club’s 2014 Season Ticket packages.Langtree Park will host the RLWC2013 match between Australia and Fiji on November 2, and Saturday’s event will provide the perfect opportunity for fans new and old to join the countdown to this eagerly-anticipated contest between two of the Southern Hemisphere’s big guns.Tickets for Rugby League World Cup 2013 are available, but selling quickly. To make sure you will BE THERE buy now at www.rlwc2013.com/tickets or call the 24-hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 2013.Meanwhile, Rugby League fans will get a mouth-watering taste of international Rugby League ahead of Rugby League World Cup 2013 when England, Italy, England Knights and Samoa contest an exciting double-header at Salford City Stadium on Saturday October 19.Seven days before they kick off the 14-nation Rugby League World Cup against Australia in Cardiff, England will complete their preparations with a warm-up fixture against Italy which kicks off at 4.30pm.Before then, England Knights will face Samoa at the same venue at 2.00pm in a game which England coach Steve McNamara believes is an equally important part of the national team’s World Cup plans.“They’re massive games for us, and for Italy and Samoa as well,” said McNamara. “We fly back in to the country from our warm-weather training camp in South Africa on the Wednesday and will be looking to put a few finishing touches to the work we’ve done when we hit the field at Salford on the Saturday.“There is a strong likelihood that some of the World Cup squad will be involved in the Knights game as well: this is the first opportunity we will have had in a long time to play the NRL-based players and some of them may be in need of an extended run. Both matches are about getting us ready to be the best we can be for kick-off against Australia.”The England v Italy match will be the first time the two nations have met at senior international level and the fixture is equally important for Italy, who faces Wales in the opening double-header of RLWC2013 at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday October 26.Samoa open their RLWC2013 campaign with a match against holders New Zealand on Sunday October 27 at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, and England coach Steve McNamara feels the Knights players will benefit from providing the South Sea Islanders with warm-up opposition.“It’s a great opportunity to provide exposure to world class opposition to some of our younger players, as well as established England players,” said McNamara. “The match also allows us to cover for many eventualities, including the possibility of giving some players the chance to play themselves into World Cup selection.”McNamara will announce his 24-man RLWC2013 squad on Tuesday October 1 and under tournament rules is allowed to make changes due to injuries or other factors after the internationals against Italy and Samoa.