Commenting on a report published today which sets out the damage caused by failings in special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision, Rosamund McNeil, assistant general Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“Dramatic funding cuts to local authority and school budgets have led to a loss in confidence for many parents that their child will receive appropriate SEND support. For many the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is seen as the only way of accessing the education provision their child needs. Sadly, this doesn't always provide the golden ticket they are looking for.
“Schools have found it challenging to continue to remain inclusive in the face of widespread education and local authority funding cuts, leading to reduced support staff numbers and bigger class sizes alongside the ever-present testing and accountability culture.
“As the Public Accounts Committee report makes clear, the Government approach on support has let SEND children down. The report’s recommendations may begin to address some of the disparities, but the Covid-19 crisis offers a real chance to ‘build back better’ in education. Covid-19 means we have to put children's learning needs and interests at the heart of the offer in the classroom. We need inclusion to be the primary goal after Covid-19. In particular, we need to support staff to respond to children's behaviour and emotional needs very flexibly when they return or we will see a huge rise in exclusions.
“In order to address the inequalities in the system we need to place wellbeing and the creation of a sense of belonging in school communities firmly in the spotlight. Let us respond to the current health crisis and the flexibility in the curriculum which it demands and take that forward with us to create a more inclusive approach to national policy.”