Commenting on the Government’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision Green Paper, published today (29 March 2022), Helen Osgood, National Officer with Voice Community – Community Union’s education and early years section – said:
“The Green Paper is welcome, but long overdue.
“Families and school and early years staff have been waiting for years for the assessments, support, training, funding and resources that they need to provide the best possible outcomes for children with SEND. Unfortunately, it will take more years before these proposals are implemented.
“We are concerned that the changes, and available funding and resources will not be enough.
“The rise of academies and the demise of local authority co-ordination and provision have also contributed to issues with SEND support services and the deterioration in some areas of links between mainstream and alternative provision (AP) schools.”
It is 2021 report The Future of Education, Voice Community’s recommendations included:
- mental health support needs to be provided for students and staff;
- more support staff
- an increase in pupil premium and special needs funding, and making both sets of funding more reactive;
A 2019 member survey on alternative provision (AP) (results published January 2020) emphasised the need for training, resources and support for staff in both AP and mainstream provision.
In its 2019 Written Evidence to Education Committee Inquiry into Special educational needs and disabilities, Voice Community stated:
- Anecdotal evidence is that assessments and support for young people with SEND are inconsistent and vary across authorities.
- Voice members felt that this increased demand may be due to a loss of support staff in schools as a consequence of restructuring and reorganisation due to budget pressures.
- Voice members reported increased workloads and additional tasks, impacting on the quality of support to children.
- Members working in rural authorities experienced more resource restrictions than in urban authorities, and difficulty accessing those available.
- Specialist staff who used to be employed in local authorities are no longer available or subject to lengthy delays because of reduced staffing and increased workloads.
- Headteacher members suggested schools were under increasing pressure because of reduced services in local authorities.
- Social Care support is reported as inconsistent.
- Transition from statements to EHCPs seems to have gone well.
- Members reported funding pressures that were impacting on quality of learning and outcomes for children and on resource replacement.
- Staff in centrally budgeted Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) and Alternative Provision (APs) reported budget pressures and cuts that are impacting on the quality of education for vulnerable young people.
- Headteachers expressed concern about the National Funding Formula and High Needs Funding reforms.
- In terms of roles and levels of cooperation between departments, members reported inconsistencies in the way local authorities cooperate with support agencies and gain access to support.
- Anecdotal evidence suggests that little has changed in these relationships over the last two years. Services are difficult to access unless there is a “unique” relationship.
Further information (Department for Education (DfE), 29 March 2022)
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