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Peter Webb. Can you help?

Eddie Mair | 11:53 UK time, Thursday, 10 May 2007

Yvonne who did our report last night on children with special educational needs would URGENTLY like to hear from Peter Webb, who posted this comment

"No 34: At 06:21 PM on 09 May 2007, Peter Webb wrote: I worked for an LEA for five years, presenting cases on behalf of the LEA to the Tribunal. In my experience it is true that LEAs have conflicting and irreconcilable roles in being both assessors and funders for children with special needs, and in some instances providers too. The danger is not so much that just one public body is responsible (although organisational separation would be preferable) but the main problem lies with the LEA staff who have to operate the procedures leading to assessment, funding and provision. It is impossible for them to behave impartially and they will invariably pursue the cheaper option, which is not always the most appropriate educational solution. My manager had responsibilty both for financial management of special educatiional needs provision, and for the LEA's statutory duty regarding assessment, and she was incapable of taking decisions on the basis of the individual child's needs."

As part of our follow up, could Mr Webb pleas email us: pm@bbc.co.uk. Thanks.


  1. At 12:05 PM on 10 May 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Now THAT's what I call interactive radio!

    Is there such a thing as a Sony Gold plus Star?

    Eddie, I hope you've posted your plea on all the other Adonis-is-a-twonk threads too.


  2. At 12:20 PM on 10 May 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Eddie - no need, I've just done it for you.

    And the pixies didn't fine me for malicious postings either, hurrah!


  3. At 12:22 PM on 10 May 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Well what a rousing speech that was -- The greatest nation on earth - was it?

  4. At 12:49 PM on 10 May 2007, Delores Behan-Ingland (Mrs) wrote:

    It's a very windy day in Trimdon, if Hilary Armstong's hair is anything to go by.

  5. At 12:57 PM on 10 May 2007, Rachel wrote:

    You might find his contact details here:


  6. At 12:58 PM on 10 May 2007, Gillian wrote:

    Could Peter Webb be contacted through the e-mail address he would have given when registering for the blog? I'm a technophobe - I don't know how accessible our contact details are to the blog-owner.

  7. At 01:08 PM on 10 May 2007, Carl wrote:

    I knew Pete's brother Ronnie Webb. Yes, the much under rated Webb Brothers. They were a dance act in the 1930's. This is taking interactive radio to a whole new level, as of course should be the 'want' of Sony award winners. But will Pete come out of the woodwork?! If he does, forget the edu stuff and go with the dance act vibe. Yvonne you'd have loved them.

  8. At 01:14 PM on 10 May 2007, Carl wrote:

    I've just read that the chief exec of Boots Richard Baker will get a £6.5 million bonus if the take over goes ahead. That's obscene, and a hell of a lot more than he got for reading the news. Lower the price of Gaviscon Mr Baker!! I've got heartburn at your good news!

  9. At 01:34 PM on 10 May 2007, Rachel wrote:

    I hope as part of the follow-up that Yvonne has been in touch with IPSEA. You will see that it gets several mentions in the Adonis thread and is truly excellent charity with enormous experience and expertise in the field.

  10. At 01:35 PM on 10 May 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    This is nothing to do with Peter Webb, but it is to do with today's news.

    I've been thinking about Gordon Brown.

    (Yes, I can hear all the groans!)

    What I've been thinking is this - and it's something I hope Mr. Brown will think about, too.

    Years ago Spain was a dictatorship. Franco had 'adopted' the grandson of the last king of Spain, with the express intention of grooming him to be his successor. People in Spain - and beyond - had few hopes for this succession, believing it would mean 'more of the same'. Indeed, it is probable that this was Franco's intention.

    Franco died. Juan Carlos became head of state, and almost immediately withdrew all the mechanisms of dictatorship. As head of the Armed Forces, his postion enabled him to see off the early attempts to stop the democratic process. We all know the rest.

    Okay, Gordon Brown isn't Juan Carlos, but my point here is that nobody should presume in advance what his actions will be. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say that this is exactly what Mr. Blair has feared - that he cannot exert control over GB beyond his retirement.

    Let us give him the opportunity to show his strengths, if Gordon Brown is elected to the Leadership. He is a man of formidable intellect, and with the disagreements with the PM behind him, he may well made an excellent leader of the Labour Party and of the country.

    [Eddie: Can you see I've been reading that book of speeches I won from you?]

  11. At 01:36 PM on 10 May 2007, jonnie wrote:

    A hearty congratulations to Radio 4 who have done very well in this quarters RAJAR figures.

  12. At 01:49 PM on 10 May 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    How about we just forget ID cards and spend the money on providing a quality education for all our children. Or is that just naively simplistic?

  13. At 02:20 PM on 10 May 2007, Hugo Ferguson wrote:

    We are currently going through the seemingly endless process of trying to get our daughter's SSEN reassessed. She is 8, has severe autism and cannot communicate meaningfully at all, even with us.
    As a result she is not making any significant progress at the special school she has attended for the last 4 years.
    We are therefore trying to get the amount of speech and language therapy she is receiving increased, and have had a continuing battle with the local education authority - Sheffield Children and Young People's Directorate (Sheffield CYPD) - to quantify this in her SSEN. Their view is that unless the Speech and Language Therapist's advice recommends a specific amount they are unable to quantify in the SSEN, and we have been unable to get the Speech and Language Therapist to include such quantification in her written advice.
    Following a meeting with the head of the Speech and Language Therapy unit involved the reason is becoming clear.
    We were told during this meeting (only, we might add, having asked the question direct) that Sheffield CYPD have advised or instructed them (the local PCT Speech and Language Unit) NOT to quantify in their advice.
    We can only assume that this is because if such quantification were commonplace Sheffield CYPD would be unable to meet the demands for speech and language therapy.
    Surely, if this is indeed the case, rather than going to such devious and disingenuous lengths to deny desperately needy children the support that the law (see Children's Act) states that they are entitled to, the CYPD should be trying to help these children by insisting that additional funding be provided to enable them to offer appropriate support.
    Although we have as yet no proof, we have no doubt that what we have been told is true, and it is probably safe to assume that similar measures are taken in many other areas. If so, the local education authorities are, as well as failing in their legal duties, taking the pressure off central government to provide proper and adequate funding for children with special educational needs.
    Maybe this explains why Lord Adonis seemed so smugly ignorant?

  14. At 02:40 PM on 10 May 2007, M Corker wrote:

    With reference to your item on children with special needs and their education. It was stated that teachers are in agreement with the system. Unfortunately they have to be or they tend to get cut out of the loop.

    In Suffolk they are invited to attend case conferences but are not expected to contribute anything. Also in Suffolk getting any action at all is rationed to a number of children per school each year, so it usually a case of put only the most needy of cases forward. It is often five years down the line before a child is assessed. In the mean time the education of that child is internmittant and the rest of the class can lose valuable teaching time due the disruption often caused by such needy children.

    If there is more than one such child in a class then things can get really bad and even the best of teachers can a bad mark if during that year they get an OFSTED Inspection. All in all teachers do not applaud the system but work with it because there is no alternative.

  15. At 03:15 PM on 10 May 2007, Peej wrote:

    I'm a school governor, and like many others have been trying to square the circle of accomodating pupils with SENs in 'mainstream' education. I agree with the principle, its absolutely right, but the resources aren't there to do the job properly. We were able to fund a SEN specialist for many years, who would spend time with what used to be a relatively small number of children. But just when this became full on policy, guess what happened? Correct, we lost our funding. If we're going to do it, we have to be prepared to make proper provisions, if we're not able or willing to do so, lets admit it and plan our strategy accordingly. Currently we have the worst of all worlds SEN children without proper support and the other pupils who lose out in all sorts of ways.

  16. At 06:03 PM on 10 May 2007, Peter Bolt wrote:

    I am only to aware that this observation may be considered in bad taste, however here goes.
    A few years ago I was working on the "console" in a Petrol Station.
    The owners had a very bright young son of about 7/8 years old. I was very suprised to learn that his parents were trying to get him registered as a "special educational needs" candidate. I just could not understand why.
    Then the penny dropped. He was soon to be eligible to take the entrance exam to a very prestigious Grammar School in our locality.
    Off one thing I was certain he did not require private tutions at the taxpayer (my) expense.

  17. At 06:38 PM on 10 May 2007, Debbie Knight wrote:

    I work with two children who have special educational needs. They attend a local primary school and their SENs are met by the provision of dedicated teaching assistants.
    Two points: the teaching assistants have no specialist training or experience (specialists would be expensive) and can offer limited support based mainly on good will, intuition and patchy day-course training. This can, and does, lead to a lack of professional standards and I have witnessed dislike and low level bullying towards the children.
    Secondly, in the school where I work no special provision is made for the children. They are dragged along in the wake of the curriculum with no special provision to help them achieve even minimum standards. The gaps between their understanding and achievements and those of their peers grows ever wider. I believe this is common practice - give the children one-to-one 'support' and hope they behave reasonably well while everyone else gets an education.

  18. At 12:50 AM on 11 May 2007, Peter Webb wrote:

    Having caused a bit of a stir with my contribution to the blog about LEAs' conflicts of interests in assessing and funding special educational needs, I feel I ought to say that I am both humbled and impressed by Yvonne's relentless efforts to track me down. She claimed to have reached me through Google but I've been googling on and off all evening and not had a successful hit.

    Anyway, well done in getting through to me, even though it shows that perhaps we're not quite as anonymous as we might think! As a committed R4 listener for many years (especially PM) I do, of course, support journalistic freedom - just as I support a fair deal for children who really have only one chance of receiving an appropriate education.

    I think I might be getting hooked on the blog. As Fifi remarked earlier - very interactive. How can anybody seriously suggest the licence fee is not value for money?

  19. At 09:18 AM on 11 May 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Peter, if you have the time to spare then look back through all the threads dealing with this issue over the last couple of days. One of the Froggers (and I'm not going to search through!) posted a link to a webpage where your contact details appeared, having been googled.

    Yvonne may well have picked you up from that. Citizen journalism in action, a listener directly influencing the programme content.

    And 'Bravo' for coming forward in the first place and then agreeing to be interviewed last night. If only there were more like you.

    Listen tonight especially, between 17:45 and 18:00 when Eddie tackles the mailbag. This item will be massive, the quantity of Blog posts gives some indication of the strength and depth of feeling on the matter. Your contribution has been one of the most important, because that view from the inside helps to dispel the myth that Lord Adonis would have us believe.

    And do stop on over at the 'Beach' thread. I think you'll find that there will be a queue of new friends willing to buy you a drink at the Nick Clarke Memorial Bar. In fact I'll pop over there momentarily and leave you a little something.


  20. At 08:55 AM on 05 Dec 2007, marilyn hulbert wrote:

    I have just heard Richard Clayborne (not sure of spelling) twice say 'I was sat with the Prime Minister'. Please, please tell him he should say 'I was SITTING' This is heard so frequently on Radio 4 - also I was stood, and I was lead. It is infuriating to hear it on Radio 4, whose use or tacit sanction of such poor grammar surely legitimises it.

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