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SEND In The Frame ! What A Surprise ? High Court Showdown : 26 June On Spending Cuts & Other News - Page 4 - Carers UK Forum

SEND In The Frame ! What A Surprise ? High Court Showdown : 26 June On Spending Cuts & Other News

For issues specific to caring for someone with learning disabilities
Chris From The Gulag wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 10:07 am
Special educational needs reforms" Failing generation of children. "

Pupils unsupported and families caught up in " Conflict and despair ", says inquiry.

A cross-party committee of MPs has accused the government of failing a generation of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) in a damning new report which calls for radical change across the system.

The report, by the education select committee, said ambitious government reforms, introduced in 2014 to improve the experiences of Send pupils and their families, had been poorly implemented with damaging consequences for many.

Children had been left without the additional support they merited, impacting not just on their education but in many cases their mental health. Their beleaguered families, meanwhile, were caught up in a nightmare of “bureaucracy, buck-passing and confusion” in a system which “breeds conflict and despair”.

During the course of the 18-month inquiry, the committee heard from 70 witnesses and received 700 written submissions, among them accounts of children as young as nine attempting suicide while others had suffered anxiety, depression and self-harm.

A significant funding shortfall for children with Send was also highlighted in the report. The government recently announced a £780m increase in local authorities’ high-needs funding for Send, as well as its own review of the impact of the reforms, which were introduced under the Children and Families Act 2014.

MPs warned, however, that any additional money would be wasted unless there was a culture change within the government, schools and local authorities. They went on to criticise a lack of accountability in the system and an “unwillingness to grapple with unlawful practice”.

The report called for a more rigorous inspection framework with clear consequences for failure, and suggested a direct line for parents and schools so they can appeal straight to the DfE where local authorities were not complying with the law.

“The distance between young people’s lived experience, their families’ struggles and ministers’ desks is just too far,” the report said.

MPs recommended a greater focus on Send in school inspections and additional powers for the local government and the social care ombudsman. The report also called for more employment and training opportunities for over-16s.

The Conservative chair of the committee, Robert Halfon, said: “Despite the good intentions of the reforms, many children with Send are being let down day after day. Many parents face a Titanic struggle just to try and ensure their child gets access to the right support.

“The DfE cannot continue with a piecemeal and reactive approach to supporting children with Send. Rather than making do with sticking plasters, what is needed is a transformation, a more strategic oversight and fundamental change to ensure a generation of children is no longer let down.”

Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, described the report as devastating and said it exposed a system on the verge of breakdown. “It is the latest evidence that the most vulnerable children are paying the highest price for this government’s cuts.”

A DfE spokesman said the additional £780m recently announced for Send brought the total amount spent on supporting those with the most complex needs to more than £7bn in 2020/21. “This report recognises the improvements made to the system over five years ago were the right ones, and put families and children at the heart of the process. But through our review of these reforms, we are focused on making sure they work for every child, in every part of the country.”

A wide variety of campaigning organisations supporting families and Send children welcomed the report. Jane Harris, the external affairs director at the National Autistic Society, said: “Autistic young people and their parents will be relieved that MPs have shown they understand the devastating experiences they have been through.

“But being heard isn’t enough. The government must act now to make sure that schools and local authorities have the resources they need to support children properly.”

Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Schools and local authorities want to provide the best possible support for SEND pupils, but the tools needed are generally no longer available due to cuts to local services.”

The Local Government Association, which represents councils, said: “Councils support the reforms set out in the Children and Families Act in 2014, but we were clear at the time that the cost of implementing them had been underestimated by the government.”
My cared for person is physically impaired. I fully concur. The report is what currently is keeping me from actually making a fuss with the help of a paper about this issue. This is serious. There is no way I will send him to a specialist school because I think that he can fully cope with the expectations of a good mainstream school with my help when it is needed. It was not a decision I made lightly. No it was a well thought out decision. I went back and forth for weeks.

Of course I will have to fight to convince the system of this. It will take time. But the education system of this country needs a reform badly. It is not about the money. Rather it is about the principles. Everyone deserves a decent education. The many cannot suffer because of a few. I always tell myself this. Progress is important too. So are goals. I’ll end now.
Concerns over plans to change Haringey SEND transport.

A plan to bring in a private firm to make school transport for children with special needs more efficient has been delayed following criticism from parents and councillors.

A snippet :

But at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (December 10), one councillor slammed the plans following reports that another local authority that hired the firm, Brighton and Hove, ended up spending significantly more money on home-to-school transport.

Cllr Noah Tucker (Labour, St Ann’s) said: “What if, like they did in Brighton and Hove, this profit-motivated, private-sector cowboy loses the borough the best part of a million pounds?”

Cllr Tucker claimed the firm would “seek in every way to maximise the gain to their shareholders and directors by cuts that will be unnecessary and motivated by financial gain to the company”.

Also speaking at the meeting, mum Marta de La Vega, founder of Haringey parents’ group sendPACT, said she had not seen any evidence that parents had been consulted about the changes.

She added: “How can left-wing politicians promote a secret contract with a dubious private company to manage this much-needed service for disabled children?
London council's special needs inquiry caused by " Systemic failures. "

At least 5,000 children seeking special educational needs support (Send) are to have their cases reviewed after a London council landed a stinging rebuke from the local government ombudsman.

Concerns about "systemic failures" in Richmond's Send department prompted the watchdog to take the highly unusual step of ordering the full-scale audit.

The ombudsman found missing documents, mislabelled files and protocols ignored while looking into three complaints.

Richmond accepted the findings in full.

The council which is usually found in the higher end of the education league tables, has agreed to undertake the review of its provision, which is run by an external company, Achieving for Children (AfC).

Others affected ?

The watchdog's decision to act reflects the seriousness of the situation which its investigation uncovered.

Michael King, local government and social care ombudsman, said the cases gave rise to serious concerns that there may be systemic failures within the processes operated by Richmond Council and AfC.

"I have published this report, in part, because other families may very well be affected by issues similar to those I have raised. I have now asked the council to undertake a full audit of its education provision and report back to me about what it finds," he said.

"If the council finds other children have been affected, it should take steps to ensure they do not miss out on the services they are entitled to receive by law."

The review will initially focus on the 1,500 children who are currently on education, health and care (EHC) plans. However, a further 3,500 are on the plans outside the council area, or are on some kind of special needs support.

Their provision will need to be checked to see if others were being denied services to which they were entitled.

There could be hundreds more families who are in the process of seeking special needs support, covering emotional and mental health needs, learning needs as well as disabilities, whose cases will need to be checked.

Richmond has three months to complete the audit and six months to submit it to the ombudsman.

Poor records

When the ombudsman's investigators visited the council to inspect case files, they found documents missing, filed or named incorrectly, and protocols not being followed.

The safe keeping of documents is important because families can take months to obtain reports and assessments from professionals to justify the special needs support they are seeking.

The investigation found the council had three separate IT systems for managing information, one of which could only be accessed by a single member of staff.

And in one of the cases, the ombudsman's investigation was only able to discover what had happened because the family had kept thorough records.

Not only was support delayed and not provided for the children and young people involved in the ombudsman cases, statutory deadlines were missed.

In addition, the education and wellbeing of young people suffered, and in some cases children were out of school for long periods.

Communication and case management was poor, with records being incomplete and vague, and a great deal of stress was caused to the families involved.

One family was awarded more than £9,000 for the loss of a year's education, inadequate provision and in recompense for time, trouble and distress caused.

And in the third case a family had to pay for its own education psychologist report at a cost of £4,400.

" Titanic struggle "

Many local authorities have struggled with changes ushered in by new legislation in 2014 which changed the way special needs are assessed and met.

The Commons Education Select Committee said in its report in October that children were being let down "day after day" as their parents faced a "titanic struggle" to get the support they need.

Ian Dodds, director of children's services for Richmond Council, said the report shows that there were significant failings for some children and young people.

"This does not reflect what I want to see in place for every child and young person," he said.

"Our sincerest apologies have been extended to the families of the children and young people the ombudsman has reported on."

He added that much had been achieved and significant investment was being made locally and that there was new leadership at the council.

Richmond said it had improved its record-keeping system, was investing in a single administrative system and had increased investment in Send over the past few years.

It added that it has speeded up its processing of EHC plans and had appointed internal cross-council auditors to carry out the review of cases.

The council is also seeking feedback from new parent forums on the process of obtaining special needs support.
Four out of five children in care have special educational needs.

Researchers were " Surprised by the scale of special educational need among children in care. "

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... onal-needs
New budget rules for councils may hit special needs school spending

Local authorities are now barred from reassigning reserves to subsidise education

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... l-spending

I cannot imagine my school managing with even lower funding. We had very little money for consumables, let alone for replacing resources that were old and in a state of disrepair, let alone buying new resources. Bank of Melly1 got fed up of paying out - I never minded buying extras, but drew the line at funding essentials.

Many schools are no longer employing more experienced and qualified level 3 teaching assistants, so now employ level 2's instead, to save money and class sizes are getting ever bigger.

As you know,my daughter works in a school and helps to teach children with special needs, even though it's mainstream. My friend gave her a bunch of pencils and card that really was meant for donations for the animal sanctuary shop. DD was so thrilled, tells the children they are special pencils, and they try so much harder. Helps that they are not tiny worn down ones. She is often bank of DD, to enable her to to her job. Between the devil and deep blue sea. Enabling the school not to supply, but wanting the best for the little ones. The head, of course never thanks her! She has reached the point where she hides the things. Can't say I blame her. My rant on behalf of her!