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Past event

We’re All in it Together : Aspirations and Legislation in a time of Austerity

National inclusive policies are shaped by a complex mixture of social, economic, political and historical concerns, formed within shifting local, national and international landscapes.

This seminar contrasts the implementation of policies in two separate legislations: Scotland and England. Scotland has recently enacted a series of legislative developments that have radically altered the concept of additional support needs along with legislation which has sought to prioritise children’s rights.

In contrast, key aims of the 2014 Children and Families Act were to raise aspirations and improve outcomes for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) through what has been described as the marketization of SEND. This has placed families and young people at the centre of the planning process as consumers with personal budgets and a focus on life outcomes rather than provision. The seminar will hear from researchers, campaigning and policy professionals as well as young people themselves who are taking part in research.

Individual presentations on the impact of SEND Reforms in England will focus on two groups: children and young people with life-limiting impairments and children and young people with learning difficulties. The impact of new Scottish Legislation will be explored highlighting the rights and experience of children in care.

By focusing on the lived experience of individuals, the symposium highlights how policy is not experienced by all in the same manner but is interpreted and shaped by the individuals for whom it is intended. Each paper within the symposium examines how methodologies focusing on including and listening to the ‘expert voices’ of young people and families, ranging from improvement methodology, to solution focused questioning and emancipatory methods, can illuminate the challenge of increased aspirations in a time of Austerity.

Agenda for Day:

10.00 Registration and coffee/ tea and biscuits
10.30 Welcome to the day
Mhairi Beaton, University of Aberdeen, Co-Convenor of BERA Inclusive Education Special Interest Group
10.45 Implementation of the new SEND Reforms in England
Phillippa Stobbs, Assistant Director Council for Disabled Children
11.30 Impact of SEND Reforms on children and young people with life-limiting impairments, their families and schools : a small-scale qualitative research project
Janet Hoskin, University of East London
12.10 My Wiki
Evan Doyle, 9 year old with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
12.30 My Aspirations
Jack Ebanks, 16 year old living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
12.45 Lunch
13.45 Hearing the voice of the young person in the new Education Health and Care process
Louise Arnold, University of East London
14.30 Improving aspirations and life outcomes for ‘looked after children and young people’
Aileen Nicol, University of Strathclyde
15.15 Completion of evaluation forms
15.20 Round up of the day. Tea and Biscuits
Mhairi Beaton


BERA offer a limited amount of bursaries for BERA Student Members only.

  • Bursaries are available for BERA Student Members to the value of £50 towards travel, and complimentary registration for the event.

To apply for one of these bursaries, please email with a 200 word statement on why you want to attend this event. Bursaries are offered on a first come, first served basis. Once approved you will be sent details of how to register online. Travel expenses will be reimbursed after the event in accordance with our travel policies. You must not have previously received bursary funding from BERA.