Key Voices #102 – How can we achieve true equality for young people with SEND? With Simon Knight

“It’s been brutal. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my career in terms of the intensity, speed of thought, emotional demands, holding a community together as best you can, while not really knowing the answers to the questions you are being asked. But at the same time, what’s been really clear is the strength of the community we work within and work for.”

This week we talk to Simon Knight, Joint Headteacher at Frank Wise School and National SEND Leader at Whole School SEND. We talk about his route into special school leadership and his experiences of running the school during the pandemic. We also talk more broadly about the structural inequality that impacts the lives and life chances of young people with special educational needs. We discuss how the education sector, other government departments and society as a whole, have much more work to do to make sure everyone has a place in society where they can contribute and feel valued. 

We talk about: 
  • What he loves about working with children with SEND 
  • His experiences of leading a special school during a pandemic 
  • Why a truly cross-departmental approach is needed to supporting young people with SEND 
  • The importance of genuinely involving those with lived experience in the policymaking process
  • That the lack of opportunity for those with SEND is a hidden issue and isn’t challenged as frequently as other forms of discrimination
  • The deep inequality facing young people with SEND in regard to opportunities for employment, health and happiness that others take for granted 
  • The importance of connecting young people with SEND to their local communities 
  • Simon’s thoughts on how the education sector could become truly inclusive 

Do take the time to read this heartbreaking report, A Fair, Supportive Society, from the Institute of Health Equity that Simon and I discuss in the podcast. 

“Let’s create a bit more space for people who’s lived experiences can inform what we do and stop making the presumption that those with the qualifications are best placed to make the decisions - because actually, it is those who experience it day to day who can help us work together to come up with the best ways of taking things forward.”

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