Community: the union for education and early years professionals has given a cautious welcome to the SEND and AP Improvement Plan for England published today (2 March 2023).
National Officer Helen Osgood said:
“We welcome the plan, but it’s long overdue.
“There is already a huge backlog and overload in the system, and it will take many years to implement the measures outlined in the plan.
“Thousands of children and families, and those who work with them, need help and support right now.
“The plans to recruit new staff are impressive and ambitious, but both schools and the health service are already struggling to recruit and retain staff so, realistically, it is unlikely these recruitment targets will be met.
“Questions also remain about the amount of funding available.”
In its response to the government’s consultation on the 2022 SEND Review, Community commented:
“The current system of support, initially funded by the school and topped up by further funding from local authority and High Needs Funding blocks is overly bureaucratic, too lengthy and relies on too many participants all playing their part. In short, this fragile system is vulnerable and too many children fall through the gap. With early intervention, united support services, adequate funding, and streamlining of process better outcomes could be achieved for children.
“This SEND Green Paper sets out ways the government believe would improve services … but it argues that this must be done within the current funding envelope. To be clear, a key reason for failure in the current system is the lack of funding.”
“Many schools and colleges have excellent relationships with specialist providers, such as education psychologists and speech and language therapists, but there are too few to go around. Schools have self-funded their own behaviour and mental health specialists because the waiting list for support from NHS is simply too long to wait.”
Department for Education:
- Transformational reform begins for children and young people with SEND (www.gov.uk)
- SEND and alternative provision improvement plan (www.gov.uk)
- SEND review: right support, right place, right time (www.gov.uk)