LOCAL AUTHORITIES FAILING CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS STATES PARENTS AND EXPERIA
The Government recently announced it was giving schools in England an extra £1.3bn over the next two years, on top of its earlier promise in March, but Experia and parents are questioning if this is enough, and whether the Government should be doing more.
Back in March 2017, it was announced that Schools in England were to receive a cash boost of more than £200m to improve facilities for children with special educational needs and disabilities.
The then Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families, Edward Timpson stated: “Our multi-million pound investment will enable local councils to build new classrooms and improve facilities for pupils, ensuring that no child is left behind.”
Malcolm Trobe, Interim General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said heads would be very pleased with any government spending on education, particularly when it is aimed at helping young people with the greatest needs.
But he added: "Unfortunately, however, this is a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed.
"Schools will have to make £3bn of savings to their annual running costs by 2020, which will have a huge impact on the curriculum they are able to offer and the support they are able to give young people, because they will have far less staff.
"In addition, the National Audit Office recently reported that it would cost an estimated £6.7 billion to return all school buildings to satisfactory or better condition."
Gareth Jones, Director of Experia states: “Students are not getting the full support they need because of potential funding issues, so the Government should address this very serious issue and work closely with schools to develop a resource programme that works, to help students with special educational needs.”
In England, Moderate Learning Disorder remains the most common primary type of need, with the percentage of children with this type of need increasing from 23.8% in 2015.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder remains the most common primary type of need for pupils with a statement or EHC plan, with 25.9% of pupils with a statement or EHC plan had this primary type of need. This has increased slightly from 24.5% in 2015.
Companies like Experia work closely with schools and commercial organisations, with Experia recently working with Middlesborough Football Club to develop a sensory room for young fans suffering with a range of disorders including Autism. “We have developed a range of sensory equipment to help many situations for all kinds of abilities, with the purpose of supporting sensory development and changing people’s lives.”
When asked if their children were receiving adequate support, members of the Parents’ Group at Tree Top Children’s Occupational Therapy Ltd, based in Newton Aycliffe, stated they didn’t believe their children were getting the full support they needed, and that they felt their local authority could do more.
One parent, a mother of twins, stated she didn't believe the local authority was doing enough to support children with special education needs. “I don't think the local authority are doing enough. My twins, Andrew and James, were referred last October to the NHS; it took till May for the occupational therapist to contact me, and then it was July before a plan was discussed for September!
“I believe that if more funding was there that my boys would have had a proper assessment that would have been done quicker and more efficiently”.
When asked if they felt their child’s school was doing enough to educate their child with the resources they currently have, one parent stated: “I think a lot more could be done in the way of reasonable adjustments. Too many schools try to fit children into boxes. There are no boxes were our child is concerned. If they need it they should have it. Schools aren’t always the experts on a child’s condition. It needs to be a consistent team approach. If strategies are being used at home then this should be the same at school and vice versa.”
When asked if they thought the local authority and the Government could do more, in terms of better financial support for schools and more resources, facilities and teaching/classroom staff, a parent added: “Absolutely! The local school budget was tight so after the Easter holidays some staff were let go due to no money. The impact was that all sensory integration stopped and the children who had been supported were all moved in to a base to keep them together as there was no resources available. This was cost cutting and the children suffered. “
Another factor agreed by the parents was that schools, local authorities and the Government could improve things to help children’s educational needs by listening to parents more; and taking advice from specialist groups and stop the judgement. “We are all working for the best interests of the child. There are huge gaps in communication, information sharing and achievable expectations. These foundations need to be in place to build on”, stated one mother.
Experia has been at the forefront of the sensory industry for more than ten years. Based in Grimethorpe, South Yorkshire, the company works with teachers, occupational therapists and health professionals and designs, manufactures and installs sensory equipment, creating products to assist those with sensory development.