Moving to a new college is difficult enough at the best of times. But if you’re a young person with high needs, the system you have to negotiate can be torturous.
A straw poll of national specialist colleges this week showed that the institutions are still waiting to find out if anywhere between a tenth and a half of their students have been granted the funding to attend. That’s with less than a month to go until the start of term. How these students, with the most severe disabilities, and their families can plan for such as life-changing move, often to the other end of the country, in such a short time is hard to imagine.
And for specialist colleges, the uncertainty makes planning, organising teaching and funding an appropriate curriculum nigh-on impossible. But the most damning indictment of the impact of the Children and Families Act 2014 has to be that, as a result of its reforms – to offer “simpler, improved and consistent help” for SEND learners – young people such as Alicia Jackson are missing out on years of education.
The system isn’t working – and vulnerable young people, who need our help the most, are the ones losing out.