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
Sadly, the more premature babies we "save" the more children there will be with special educational needs.
Some may be unaffected - my nephew was born at 24 weeks but no lasting effects, but others may have lifelong needs.
My own son was born at 40 weeks, but his delivery was bungled (busy night, trainee nurse, no supervision, not enough monitors to go round, not enough doctors to give me the epidural I desperately needed). No chance of compensation though, nothing written on the notes for three hours.

Long ago children with special needs all went to special hospitals where they received care and education, seldom seeing their parents. Society is still struggling to find the "right" alternatives. In the meantime parents are being left to care for their profoundly handicapped children with inadequate care and inadequate education. I have often felt that I have been punished for a crime I didn't commit. I didn't ask for a mentally handicapped child! I've always done my best for him, at great personal cost.
Special needs education in Lancashire is more segregated than elsewhere.

A meeting of Lancashire County Council’s cabinet heard that there is a significantly lower proportion of young people with SEND being educated in mainstream schools in the county than is the case nationally. That is in spite of the fact that legislation introduced five years ago encourages the integration of SEND pupils in mainstream settings, with additional support provided if needed.

Currently, there are almost 10 percent more children with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) who attend special schools in Lancashire compared to the national picture – equating to 690 pupils.

The proportion of the EHCP cohort which goes to council or independently-run special schools in Lancashire is 48.4 percent, whereas across the country, the figure stands at 38.6 percent.

“The balance of support for children and young people is in the wrong direction,” County Cllr Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for schools, said.

“We have got too few children’s needs being met in mainstream schools. The lack of access to support in mainstream schools and local specialist provision for those with the most complex needs is resulting in some of our children travelling huge distances outside of their community to get their education,” she added.

The meeting also heard that only a tiny fraction – 0.4 percent – of pupils with an EHCP attend special educational needs units within mainstream schools in the county, leaving the facilities under-utilised. Such units provide additional resources for young people with issues including hearing impairment, speech, language and communication difficulties and specific learning disabilities.

Cabinet members approved a new framework designed to improve outcomes for SEND children, enhance the additional support which they receive in mainstream settings and provide a consistent educational offering in which parents and carers are given choice and equal access.

It is estimated that Lancashire will need to find places for an additional 270 children with SEND over the next five years, 108 of which are likely to require special school provision.

The meeting heard that the so-called “high needs block” of funding which supports SEND provision is under pressure both locally and nationally – with Lancashire’s level of special school attendance resulting in “significantly increased cost”.
Special educational needs crisis deepens as councils bust their budgets.

Observer investigation reveals 30% rise in overspending against backdrop of a failure to meet demand for services.


The funding crisis in special needs education is deepening, with council overspends on support for children with conditions including autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder rising by 30% in just a year, the Observer can reveal.

Figures sourced under the Freedom of Information Act from 118 of the 151 local authorities in England show that councils are expecting to overspend their high needs block budgets by £288m in 2019-20 – up from £232m in 2018-19. When money raided from mainstream schools budgets is included, however, these figures rise to £315m in 2018-19 and nearly £410m this year – a rise of almost 30% in the space of 12 months.

The high needs block is government funding that supports children with higher cost needs. Children with moderate special needs are funded via mainstream schools budgets.

The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said: “The government has slashed funding for schools and now we are seeing the consequences. This overspend reveals the stark reality that our children are not getting the support they need.

“Ministers need to abandon any plans for tax cuts for the rich and invest in our pupils and schools instead – ensuring they have the resources to support every child, particularly those with Send [special educational needs and disabilities].”

The huge council overspends are despite the government injecting £250m of emergency funding over two years into special needs education last December.

The situation may get worse. Last November, the Observer revealed that 117 councils were forecasting a collective high needs overspend of £200m in 2018-19. At that point, Surrey council was expecting to achieve a balanced budget “on the basis that savings would be found”. Instead, it overspent by nearly £15m – the highest in the country. Its response to the Observer’s FOI request shows an overspend of £31m this year. A council spokesperson insisted that there was no forecast overspend this year – but this will only be after the council pumps in £29m to try to balance the books.

Gillian Doherty, who founded Send Action which campaigns for children with special needs, said: “Despite the increase in councils’ so-called ‘overspends’ we continue to see cuts to specialist support This is contributing to a growing attainment gap between disabled and non-disabled pupils.

“There’s no doubt that government underfunding is having a negative effect on the educational outcomes and life chances of disabled children, undermining inclusion and increasingly raising serious safeguarding concerns due to inadequate staffing ratios.”

Most councils have adopted plans to reduce the special needs deficits. This often takes the form of increasing local special needs provision to lessen costly out-of-area placements, but this will take time to have an effect. And some councils are considering direct funding cuts.

Cambridgeshire council will consult on savings proposals this autumn to cut special needs top-up funding for mainstream schools and high needs units, review top-up rates for further education and cut other high needs spending such as after-school clubs.

A Cambridgeshire council spokesperson said: “Despite a new formula, the high needs block funding is not reflective of the current level of need or costs for children in Cambridgeshire with special needs.

“We have significant pressure in delivering specialist services across a large geographic area and we have faced year-on-year increases in both the number of children being supported and the complexity of their needs.”

Anntoinette Bramble of the Local Government Association said: “Councils have seen rapid rises in demand for support following changes in 2014 which extended eligibility to the 16-to-25 age group. [Since then,] councils have overseen an increase of nearly 50% in children and young people with EHC [education, health and care] plans – or, in their previous form, SEN statements.

“Councils are facing a high needs shortfall of up to £1.2bn next year, which we are calling on the government to address in the upcoming spending round.”
Parents win funding to mount legal challenge over school closure.

Bindmans law firm are investigating the lawfulness of St Christopher’s school closure.

Parents shocked by the sudden closure of a residential unit at a special needs school in Bristol, which resulted in children with severe and complex learning difficulties having to move out, have won legal aid funding to investigate a possible challenge to the lawfulness of the decision.

Parents were called at work and summoned to pick up their children from St Christopher’s – an independent special school and residential care home in Westbury Park, in the north of the city – after Ofsted suspended its registration due to safeguarding concerns.

Police confirmed at the time they were investigating allegations of child cruelty and a number of staff were suspended pending the outcome. Parents expressed anger at the way the closure, which happened three weeks ago, was handled and sought legal advice.

Kevin Maxwell, whose 16-year-old son Jonah was one of around 30 pupils moved out of St Christopher’s, has been granted legal aid funding to investigate potential claims resulting from the closure. Jonah is now living at home.

He said: “We remain extremely concerned about the closure of St Christopher’s and have instructed [the law firm] Bindmans to investigate the lawfulness of the decision. Along with the other families involved, the closure continues to have a significant impact on both our son and our family. Given the extent of Jonah’s autism, it simply can’t be in his best interests for the doors of his home for the past six years to be shut as abruptly as they were.”

A statement from Bindmans said: “We have been instructed by the Maxwells to advise on the lawfulness of the actions and decisions that led to the sudden closure of the residential unit at St Christopher’s.

“The Maxwells have been granted a legal aid certificate which will allow them to investigate any potential claims in respect of that sudden closure. The next step will be to provide the Maxwells with formal legal advice. Unfortunately, such advice can only properly be given on a confidential and legally privileged basis and we are therefore unable to speculate as to what such claims might involve.”

At the time of the closure, Ofsted said the residential unit at St Christopher’s had been inspected in June and was judged inadequate. “On Monday 29 July, we issued St Christopher’s with a suspension of registration notice because of serious concerns about safeguarding.”

St Christopher’s is run by the Aurora Group, a private company specialising in special education care. An Aurora spokeswoman said at the time: “We are deeply concerned about the serious allegations against a small number of staff who were immediately suspended. We are now focused on doing all that we can to support the children, young people, their families and carers, and the many caring and dedicated staff who are affected during this difficult time.”

Ofsted later said it was confident it made the right decision. “That is because in July we were made aware of new significant concerns about child cruelty, which now form part of a major ongoing police investigation. We only take such decisions to suspend children’s homes registrations when there is a reasonable belief that any children may be at risk of harm – this test is set out in law. The decision was also taken after strategy meetings with other agencies, which shared our concerns.

“We understand the distress this caused to the families involved, but it is important that we take swift action where we have serious concerns about children’s safety. When children’s homes close it is up to local authorities to find suitable accommodation for children in care, and we always work with them during this process.”

According to Ofsted, St Christopher’s school has been inspected seven times since it was registered in 2016 and has never been graded better than “requires improvement”. In June, it was inspected and judged to be inadequate for a second consecutive time.

“Following this inspection we took steps to restrict more placements at the home and served a notice of proposal to cancel registration. Following the decision to suspend, St Christopher’s school did not appeal the decision and chose to voluntarily cancel its registration.”
Special educational needs children " Forced out of mainstream education " across Yorkshire.

The number of children with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream education has fallen in the county since 2012, while the number attending special schools has risen by almost a third, analysis by JPIMedia shows.

In 2012, the proportion of children with SEN in Yorkshire’s primary and secondary schools was 19 per cent, according to the latest Government statistics.

But as of 2019, this had fallen to 14 per cent.

And the number of children attending special schools has risen in the county by 35 per cent, the Department for Education (DfE) figures reveal.

This is despite the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014, which states that children with SEN should usually be given a place in mainstream classes.

The Government said all schools should be inclusive.

The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) has accused the Government of an “on-going attack on disabled people’s rights to be included rather than segregated from society”.

Simone Aspis, policy and campaigns coordinator at ALLFIE, said: “Parental choice is a myth – parents we know do not choose special school provision, they are forced into it because mainstream schools no longer have the money and support to implement inclusive education practice.”

She said the Government was dealing with a shortfall in SEN places by planning new special schools rather than funding better provision in mainstream education.

She added: “This is no longer about austerity, but rather this Government’s on-going attack on disabled people’s rights to be included rather than segregated from society.”

Nationally, the number of children with SEN in mainstream education in England has dropped by a quarter - 24 per cent - since 2012, while the number attending special schools has increased by nearly a third - 31 per cent.

A spokesperson for the DfE said: “All schools must be inclusive of children with disabilities and 82 per cent of all pupils identified as having special educational needs are in state-funded mainstream schools.

“Additionally, we have created new special schools in response to the increasing number of pupils with complex special educational needs and are committed to delivering even more provision to ensure every child is able to access the education that they need.”

Mainstream schools in England are now the least inclusive in the UK, the analysis by the JPIMedia data unit shows.

Now, only about one in seven children in mainstream primaries and one in eight children in mainstream secondaries have special needs.

The proportion of mainstream primary school pupils who have special needs in Yorkshire is now 18 per cent. This is a fall from 15 in 2012.

Integration of SEN pupils is even worse in secondary schools in the county. The proportion of mainstream secondary school pupils who have special needs is now 12.5 per cent. This is a fall from 20.5 per cent in 2012.

The proportion of mainstream primary school pupils who have special needs in Yorkshire is now 18 per cent. This is a fall from 15 in 2012.

The 15 local authorities in England with the lowest percentage of SEN pupils in mainstream primaries and secondaries in 2019 include York, which tabled at number 10 and 11 respectively.

Maxine Squire, assistant head of education at City of York Council, said: “Since 2014, we have had a 40 per cent rise in the number of SEN pupils and students linked to complex autism, which has increased demand for special school places.

“In addition, some of our special school provision is on mainstream school sites so, while pupils access mainstream education for some of the time they will be on the special school roll.

"This includes provision at the Hob Moor Academy school site, at Orchard - delivered at Manor CE Academy - and satellite provision, and at Haxby Road Primary Academy’s enhanced resource provision.

“Our small cohort and mixed SEN provision in York can mask the reality.”
Children with special needs are marginalised at school, says NAO.

National Audit Office says the system incentivises schools to be less inclusive.

( Stats quoted ? Someone had a bad day ... stick to smoking ordinary baccy , squire ... ? )

Children with special needs and disabilities are being marginalised by mainstream schools in England, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) which says the system incentivises them to be less inclusive.

The NAO accuses the government of misjudging the financial impact of its changes to education, with rising numbers of pupils with special needs unable to be accommodated in mainstream schools following a combination of funding strains, off-rolling and exclusions.

This has resulted in local authorities having to break their budgets to fund additional places in special schools, including in more expensive independent schools, its report says.

The investigation found that mainstream schools had incentives to avoid enrolling pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (Send), because of the additional costs imposed on school budgets and from the impact on the school’s league tables.

“Stakeholders in the sector have raised concerns that the demand for special school places is growing because the system incentivises mainstream primary and secondary schools to be less inclusive,” the NAO said.

“Mainstream schools are expected to cover the first £6,000 of support for a child with Send from existing budgets and cost pressures can make them reluctant to admit or keep pupils with Send.

“Another barrier is that schools with high numbers of children with Send may also appear to perform less well against performance metrics.”

The NAO’s figures showed that while the number of pupils with high needs has risen over the past four years in special schools, alternative provision and independent special schools, the number enrolled in mainstreams schools was still lower in 2018 than in 2014 or 2015.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education (DfE) said the government has committed to providing an extra £700m next year to help educate children with Send, along with launching a review of support.

“We have improved special educational needs support to put families at the heart of the system and give them better choice in their children’s education, whether in mainstream or special school,” the DfE said.

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: “While lots of schools, both special and mainstream, are providing high-quality education for pupils with Send, it is clear that many children’s needs are not being met.

“I therefore welcome the DfE’s announcement of a review into support for children with Send, following our engagement with them on this issue over recent months. We hope the review will secure the improvements in quality and sustainability that are needed.”

The report noted that pupils with special needs were more likely to be permanently excluded than those without special needs. Pupils with Send accounted for nearly 45% of all permanent exclusions and 43% of fixed-term exclusions in 2017-18, despite accounting for only around 20% of the pupil population.

“Evidence also suggests that pupils with Send are more likely to experience off-rolling – where schools encourage parents to remove a child primarily for the school’s benefit – than other pupils,” the NAO wrote.

The 2014 education reforms replaced statements of special education needs with education and health care (EHC) plans, but the NAO said the DfE misjudged the financial consequences: “The department expected that the benefits and savings would significantly outweigh the costs of moving to the new system.”

Tim Nicholls, head of policy at the National Autistic Society, said ministers need to use the review announced last week to address the system’s serious problems.

“We hear awful stories every day of autistic children who are being held back from getting the education they deserve because schools don’t understand or can’t meet their needs. This can be devastating for them and their families, and mean they lose all faith in the system. This detailed NAO report shows the extent of this unacceptable situation,” Nicholls said.