Special Educational Needs and Disabilities support for children faced crisis but help is coming in the form of £700m funding. Acknowledging the need to overhaul the system and increase its funding, the government has agreed to fund the program with an additional £700 million.
Families of children deserving the support have filled several complaints against the council on delay issues of up to 90 weeks and the council’s inability to meet up with their statutory duties.
Parent’s complaints about the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) support have risen to 45% within two years to 2019. Also, in the report by Ombudsman Michael King, 87% of the total complaints received highlighted the council’s failing responsibilities towards children with special needs. Particularly, special educational needs and disabilities support failed to live up to its basic functions.
Families have encountered challenges accessing Education, Health, and Care Plan (EHCP) for their children, as well as the appropriate, deserved services. The ombudsman explained that the years of severe cuts experienced by the council led to the challenges of accessing Special Educational Needs and disabilities support.
Special needs children missing out on their education
According to King, the council took to rationing resources, which ultimately resulted in special needs children missing out on their education. He explained;
We are now upholding almost nine in 10 investigations we carry out about EHCPs. This is exceptional and unprecedented in our work. Two years ago when the new system of support for children and young people with Send was still bedding in after sweeping changes under the Children and Families Act 2014, the ombudsman upheld around 80% of investigations. That we are investigating and upholding significantly more complaints two years later suggests a system in crisis.
Even though Michael King empathized with the council over the cuts, he maintained that it is not enough to deprive children’s needs. In his words:
I am now particularly concerned some authorities may be putting in place extra barriers to ration scarce resources, rather than basing support on children’s needs. While I can empathize with the difficulties authorities face, there can never be an excuse for failing to meet the statutory rights of children.
Additional £700m Special Educational Needs and Disabilities funding
The complaints received by the council reveals the state of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) support. Between 2017 and 2019, 98 more complaints were received concerning SEND.
Pleased with government decision to fund the special educational needs and disabilities support, the chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said;
While we are pleased the government has announced an additional £700m for children with special educational needs, without certainty over funding for the future the situation will get worse as the number of children who need support continues to increase.
The chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, Judith Blake, disclosed that between 2018 and 2019, there has been an 11% increase of children needing support. A period where the assistance of the government is crucially required.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Department of Education discussed that the report by the ombudsman represents only 0.3% of 2018 cases. The spokesperson said;
However, we know the system is not working well enough for every family, and have launched a review to introduce further improvements.