Uncovering the origin of the evil EHCP ‘Golden Ticket’ Narrative

The SEND trope of the EHCP “Golden Ticket” has just lately as soon as once more raised its pernicious head on social media. Over latest years, the time period has been employed to suggest the wrong-headed concept that having one can open doorways to raised academic alternatives and help. Ceaselessly, it’s insinuated—as Iain Mansfield’s tweet proven does – that whereas some EHCPs are on account of ‘real want’, others are being issued as a result of mother and father are “demanding” them when they don’t seem to be wanted.

It’s not the primary time in 2023 the narrative has been used. Earlier this yr, we at Particular Wants Jungle printed an article refuting the declare by Tony McArdle (an adviser to the Division for Training) that the SEND disaster is a ‘demand downside’ and that the rise in EHCPs (additionally, apparently, generally known as ‘Golden Tickets’) is indicative of households “taking part in a recreation” and preventing for plans that supply ‘an excessive amount of’ provision. It’s infuriating, 5 months later, to see the Head of Training at Coverage Alternate ‘the UK’s main assume tank’ spouting the identical garbage as McArdle. But it surely did get me considering… the place on earth did this concept of the ‘golden ticket’ come from and why is it so pervasive?

Let’s take a look at that, discover its influence on the discourse surrounding EHCPs, and critically look at its implications for disabled youngsters and their households.

The Emergence of the ‘Golden Ticket’ Narrative

Whereas this may not be the very unique supply, the earliest reference I can discover to EHCPs as a ‘Golden Ticket’ got here in a CQC and Ofsted Report in 2016— though it appears quite a bit longer in the past. You probably have proof of it getting used earlier, particularly in skilled studies, please tell us.

In Native space SEND inspections: one yr on, it states (p13):

30. Youngsters and younger individuals who have been recognized as needing SEND help however with out an EHC plan didn’t profit as persistently from a coordinated strategy between schooling, well being and care as these with a plan. Consequently, mother and father reported that getting an EHC plan was like a ‘golden ticket’ to raised outcomes, though an EHC plan was rightly not issued as a result of the complexity of the kid’s want didn’t require it. Ofsted, EHCPs One Yr On

This isn’t referenced additional. It doesn’t state which of the 30 native space inspections that had taken place by then this had originated from, nor what number of mother and father had used the time period. Certainly, to me, it sounds as if one guardian referred to an EHCP as being ‘like a ‘golden ticket’ to raised outcomes’ though their youngster’s wants may very well be met at SEND Assist.

I’ve been by every of the 30 native space inspection studies that this report pertains to (between Summer season 2016 and Spring 2017) and can’t discover a reference to a golden ticket in any of them.

Extra official “golden ticket” references

The Golden Ticket time period was repeated in The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Training, Youngsters’s Providers and Expertise 2016/17 (web page 19), and the time period clearly caught individuals’s consideration because it was then utilized in a spread of locations together with:

a presentation by Joanna Corridor, Deputy Director Faculties for Ofsted, who said that diagnostic labels are usually not a ‘golden ticket’ to accessing providers

the London Meeting Training Panel Report in 2018 (web page 20) who described how mother and father ‘…are seeing an EHCP as a ‘golden ticket’ to raised outcomes many extra are making use of for an EHCP even when their youngster’s want may not require it’

Amanda Spielman giving proof to the Public Accounts committee in January 2019 who said ‘A lot of the useful resource is occurring plans. Within the present construction, an EHCP is the golden ticket, so there’s quite a lot of focus amongst mother and father to do something to get a plan. That should, to some extent, imply consideration is pulled away from those that fall simply exterior’

Mrunal Sisodia, then co-chair of the Nationwide Community of Mother or father Carer Boards (NNPCF), additionally giving proof to the Public Accounts Committee, 9 months later in September 2019, who additionally relied on the Golden Ticket narrative, stating ‘Why do mother and father need a plan? Really, most mother and father don’t want a plan. They find yourself having a plan as a result of the plan is seen because the golden ticket to accessing the help their households want. The piece of paper means little for many mother and father; it’s what it represents that’s key.’

The Home of Commons Committee of Public Accounts ‘Assist for kids with particular academic wants and disabilities’ report, states ‘Training, well being and care (EHC) plans have change into a ‘golden ticket’ that oldsters combat for to safe entry to sufficient help for his or her youngsters.’ (web page 3).

And Professor Brian Lamb, writer of the Lamb Inquiry report in 2009, has additionally drawn on this language, for instance when describing how ‘the EHCP has continued the parental assumption that this was the “golden ticket” to raised provision and outcomes in lots of LAs in the event that they believed non-statutory provision was not safe’. (See SNJ’s article on the Frontiers group of analysis articlesthis got here from right here)

This feels to me like an enormous recreation of Chinese language whispers. Not one in all these claims of oldsters seeing an EHCP as a ‘golden ticket’ has been substantiated, apart from the truth that perhaps one guardian used this time period in a CQC & Ofsted Native Space SEND Inspection between 2016-2017, and even then which may have been taken out of context as the complete transcript shouldn’t be accessible nor referenced.

What we will see is that the trope has slowly developed in a method that lends itself to an anti-parent narrative that we see in articles such because the one by Tony McArdle. A story that we see persisting in studies such because the one commissioned by the Native Authorities Affiliation that implies articulate middle-class mother and father are “utilizing” the system and difficult choices made by native authorities to get greater than their youngster wants, or certainly throughout the SEND & AP Enchancment Plan which is concentrated on discovering methods to scale back the variety of ’golden tickets’ sorry, I imply EHCPs, and making certain that there’s a truthful system in place. Once more, with the suggestion that perhaps some mother and father are “getting extra” than their youngster truly deserves.

Eff off along with your demonising nonsense!

In fact, each time the Golden Ticket narrative rears its ugly head, mother and father are pressured to push again, arguing an EHCP shouldn’t be one thing anybody “needs” for his or her youngster to have, and the method to safe one is usually painful and traumatic. In any case, the existence of the plan doesn’t be sure that the availability inside it’s truly delivered, the mounting piles of time-consuming paperwork is distressing, and as soon as your youngster has one, you can’t relaxation as a result of it’s good to interact within the annual evaluation course of. None of that is something fascinating or in any method ’golden’.

If we glance up definitions of ‘golden’ it consists of ‘being in a cheerful or lucky place’, or synonyms of profitable, flourishing, thriving, fortunate, joyful… I may go on. This isn’t the language that’s typically utilized by mother and father of youngsters who’ve secured an Training, Well being and Care Plan. In fact, in case you are struggling to safe any significant SEND Assist – as the unique guardian within the Native Space SEND Inspection may need been – the EHCP may look to be enticing in that you just think about it should carry with it the availability your youngster desperately wants. I don’t deny that.

Nevertheless, my intention on this quick article has been to spotlight how clear it’s that it’s typically these in positions of affect and accountability utilizing the time period, not unusual mother and father. Perhaps one guardian, or perhaps a small group, spoke about an EHCP in these phrases, most likely paradoxically, throughout an inspection go to six or seven years in the past, however this language is being regularly bolstered utilized by the Authorities, Ofsted and professionals within the SEND system – each attributing it to folks and subsequently blaming mother and father for the rise within the variety of EHCPs. It deflects from the truth that mainstream colleges are failing to coach an growing variety of pupils with extra or rising wants, forcing mother and father to intervene in a method most don’t must. Certainly, I believe that I’ve demonstrated that there is no such thing as a proof in anyway that oldsters whose youngster has an EHCP considers it to be a ‘golden ticket’ to something.

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