Parliament’s Education Committee has published a report calling for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) reform. The current system has ‘put local authorities under pressure, left schools struggling to cope and, ultimately, thrown families into crisis.’
Cllr Clive Johnson, Medway Labour & Co-operative Spokesperson for Children and Young People said ‘Sadly, this report reflects the experience of so many families in Medway.
‘Support for our young people with special needs and disability is crumbling under the strain of rising demand and falling resources, resulting in their needs not being met and unacceptable strain on them and their families.
‘These young people are among the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens and their families have to continually fight for them. Ofsted have already required an action plan for Medway’s SEND provision in addition to the new plan needed because of the shocking judgement on children’s services.
‘I hope this report will shock Conservative Medway Council and the Conservative government into prompt and effective action.’
Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary said, ‘This devastating report exposes a system on the verge of breakdown. Even a senior Conservative MP is now warning that parents have been ‘let down’ and left ‘in despair’ without the support they and their children need.
‘It is the latest evidence that the most vulnerable children are paying the highest price for this government’s cuts.’
A report released by the Education Committee on Wednesday recommends a series of measures to strengthen inspections, support parents going through the Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) process and ensure those responsible for SEND provision are held accountable when things go wrong.
- A more rigorous inspection framework for local authorities, with clear consequences for failure. There should be a greater focus on SEND in school inspections.
- A direct line for parents and schools to appeal directly to the Department for Education where local authorities appear not to be complying with the law.
- Powers for the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to investigate complaints about schools.
- The development of more employment and training opportunities for post-16 young people
- The Committee concludes that while the reforms to the support for children and young people contained in the Children and Families Act 2014 were the right ones, poor implementation has put local authorities under pressure, left schools struggling to cope and, ultimately, thrown families into crisis.
The report can be viewed here Special Educational Needs First Report of Session 2019–20