Commenting on the Local Government Association (LGA)’s latest research on demand for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) support, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"The LGA's call for the scrapping of High Needs deficits and a boost for inclusion in mainstream is the correct one but a more fundamental change in attitudes and approach across the education system is needed.
"The value of an EHCP has been cut by 29% in real terms since 2015-16, creating a funding gap of £3.6bn. Funding pressures in schools in general are leading to reduced not increased inclusion in mainstream schools. The loss of experienced and qualified teaching assistants and learning support assistants working with students in class means that many SEND students have little or no additional class support in mainstream settings, which leads to increased EHCP applications. The Green Paper fails to recognise the value of this support and includes just one paragraph about support staff.
"Delays in accessing support and diagnosis from specialist professionals such as educational psychologists, speech and language therapist and CAMHS leave many SEND students without the support they need in mainstream schools. In addition, pressures for all students to do SATs and GCSEs, along with an inflexible and overpacked curriculum, when for many these are inappropriate, lead to increased school anxiety, disaffection and increased applications for EHCPs."
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