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Labour calls on Government to engage with schools on SEND guidance

Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s Shadow Children and Early Years Minister

Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green MP and Shadow Children’s Minister Tulip Siddiq MP will today (Tuesday) call on Government Ministers to have meaningful dialogue with schools and parents to improve the guidance and support available for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

There are widespread concerns about the level of support available for children with SEND, many of whom have been denied a full-time education, school transport or the provision they are legally entitled to due to pressures on resources, staffing and space. The Department for Education estimates that around one in five children with Education, Health and Care plans were still not attending school at the end of last month.

Today, Kate Green MP and Tulip Siddiq will tomorrow (Tuesday 13 October) meet headteachers of special schools and schools with a high proportion of children with SEND to discuss the challenges that children are facing.

Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years, said:

“The return to school has been extremely challenging for children with SEND, many of whom suffered greatly over lockdown. Their needs and welfare should have been prioritised during this pandemic, but far too often they and their families have felt forgotten.

“Schools are facing huge pressures, and a lack of clear guidance and support from government when it comes to SEND has resulted in some children being denied a full-time school place or the help they need. Staffing problems have been exacerbated by the failure to get test and trace working properly.

“We will keep raising the concerns of parents and schools directly with government, but Ministers should be doing this engagement themselves.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“Throughout this pandemic, young people, especially those with special educational needs and disabilities, have had an extremely raw deal. They have often seemed to be an afterthought for government.

“Our members tell us that guidance for special schools has been inconsistent and inadequate, putting the safe return to school for children with SEND at risk. The most vulnerable in our schools deserve better. The government must bring children and young people with SEND to the front of the queue for help.”

On 24 September 2020, 81% of children with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans at state-funded schools in England were in attendance.  The figure for all children is 88%.

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