Commenting on the passing of motion 34 at the National Education Union’s Annual Conference, which is being held virtually, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Current funding for special educational needs (SEND) in schools is grossly inadequate and the Covid crisis has made the future even bleaker for the existing 1.28 million SEND students.  The real-terms cuts to schools funding, aligned with the additional costs of Covid, has increased the pressure on SEND and mental health support both in schools and local authorities.  

“The Covid crisis has meant many SEND students have not had their usual access to the therapies and pastoral support that enables inclusion. Mental health services are stretched to breaking point as more young people face crises due to the effects of Covid restrictions, undiagnosed SEND and trauma. Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) needs emergency funding to ensure all young people requiring support are able to access professional support in a timely manner, alongside proper long-term investment in mental health services in both schools and local authorities. 

“Government must properly fund all schools and conduct an urgent review of high-needs funding. This must ensure that an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan provides the actual funding needed to deliver the SEND child or young person’s entitlement. We must also remind government that EHC plans now apply for SEND young people up to the age of 25, as there is concern that so many families have difficulty accessing support beyond the age of 18. Recovery education must have the capacity to support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing rather than focussing relentlessly on academic catch-up.”