Petition demands end to national SEN crisis

Send National Crisis campaigners are to deliver a 13,000-signature petition to Downing Street, arguing that special needs funding is failing to keep pace with demand.

Although government ministers say they are increasing the funding available. The campaign group have organised rallies in 28 towns and cities across the country - rumoured to be the first national action of its kind.

Recent analysis by the National Education Union found that central government funding had failed to keep up with demand for special needs education to the tune of £1.2 billion since 2015.

Send National Crisis says that funding pressures on local authorities have led to the widespread closure of children's centres ‘which provide essential support for disadvantaged and disabled children’, highlighting reductions in school and college funding with ‘vital teaching assistant support being cut’.

The organisation is therefore demanding better regulatory controls to ensure that funding for special needs and disabilities is ring-fenced and delivered ‘precisely where it is most needed’.

Parents and carers argue that the system of using Education, Health and Care plans (EHCs), introduced in 2014, is not working and last year, Ofsted described the failure to deliver support for thousands of children in England with diagnosed special educational needs as ‘a national scandal’.

Nadhim Zahawi, Children and Families Minister, said: "Our ambition is for every child, no matter the challenges they face, to have access to a world-class education that sets them up for life. Funding for the high-needs budget is a priority for this government and we know that councils and schools are facing pressures. That's why in December we provided an extra £250m up to 2020 to help manage these costs. This takes the total amount that we have allocated for high-needs funding to £6.3 billion this year, compared to £5 billion in 2013.

"At the same time, the education secretary has been clear that we are working closely with the sector as we approach the spending review and we have launched a call for evidence to make sure the funding system is getting money to the right places at the right time. We are revising the Send code of practice to improve ways to identify and meet special educational needs."