Commenting on today’s report, Rosamund McNeil, assistant general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“The fact that nearly half of children and young people with SEND leave school without the qualifications they need is an indictment of government policy, but is sadly not surprising. Schools and local authorities have been struggling to plug the gaps in SEND education left by years of cuts and underfunding, but without significant investment many children are unable to access the support they need.
“The government’s recent pledge of £700 million for SEND still leaves the sector with a shortfall of £1 billion, meaning that thousands more pupils will be denied access to timely, appropriate specialist provision in school. Children with SEND have so much to offer society after they leave school. The government needs to wake up to the SEND crisis we are facing and ensure that all children can access the qualifications they need to succeed and thrive.
“What the children commissioner should immediately demand of government is a multi-departmental, coherent anti-child-poverty strategy. Asking schools to close the gap between rich and poor children whilst government continues to take policy decisions that worsen child poverty, is deeply unfair. The government continues to pretend that their academisation programme is the answer to reversing poor students' life chances, despite evidence which shows the contrary. The frustration and distress felt by teachers and heads about the harm to families from austerity and cuts to children's services is leading staff to question whether they can stay on the job. The reality of education cuts is always that the children who had the least to start with, lose the most.”