Commenting on the launch of a review into support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“SEND pupils need the right levels of education funding now. The last thing they need is another long-drawn-out review, when their chance at education is now.

“93% of local authorities have lost out on SEND funding since 2015 because of central government’s cuts to special needs provision. Campaigning by the School Cuts coalition and a range of parent groups won £250million in high needs funding for 2018-20, and this week the Chancellor announced that SEND funding will rise by £700m. This still leaves schools £1billion short of what is needed. 

“Every school wants to provide the strategies and support which work for each individual SEND pupil, but the real-terms funding crisis has had a devastating impact. In a recent survey of members in primary and secondary schools, 81% told us that their school did not have sufficient staff to provide that service. 73% confirmed that since 2017 there had been a drop in the number of teaching assistants, as a direct consequence of funding pressures.

“We don’t need another review to tell us that children with SEND need quicker assessments, timely access to CAMHS, and flexibility in how they access the curriculum. More widely, we need to see an end to the testing culture in schools, which impacts negatively on young people with SEND. The Government must also invest in the professional skills of staff so that all families and schools benefit from best practice ideas about SEN teaching.

“The NEU will continue to campaign for schools to get the funding they require to give children the education they deserve.”