By the government’s own reckoning, over 2,000 pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities are not getting access to necessary resources and equipment because of funding cuts.
Since 2015 £5.4 billion has been cut from school budgets in England. The most vulnerable have been hit hardest.
A recent report by IPPR North found that SEND [Special Educational Needs and Disability] funding has been cut by 17% across England since 2015. The number of SEND and disability tribunal hearings has doubled in the past two years, with the decision favouring parents in 89 per cent of their cases.
Working for the last few years in primary schools, I personally have seen a return to removing "high-profile" children from their classes; a single teaching assistant responsible for supporting four children; a teaching assistant splitting their time between four classrooms; a child in KS2 on P-levels without one-to-one support; and an early years class with sixty children, four members of staff, and eleven autistic pupils.
Pupils with SEND make up 15% of the school population, but close to half of all permanent exclusions are of pupils with SEND. Children in need of counselling face long delays, and a study conducted by the BBC found that children in need of Education Healthcare Plans were waiting for nearly three years in some cases.
Fundamentally, the issue of SEND cuts comes down to the coalition and then Tory governments’ attacks on education funding; local authorities, Multi-Academy Trusts and heads choosing to prioritise children without SEND when it comes to limited funding; and the unions failing to mount a serious industrial challenge to education cuts.
Serious industrial action in defence of the most vulnerable students in our education system, alongside political campaigning, is needed.