More than 8,000 with SEND have no access to education

The number of young people with SEND waiting for a school place has doubled in two years, new research shows

Helen Ward

Thousands of young people with SEND are without access to education, research shows

More than 8,000 young people with special educational needs have no access to education, a new analysis shows

The NEU teaching union has found that 8,587 children and young people with education, health and care (EHC) plans are classed as “awaiting provision” for a school place.

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The figures come as three families prepare to challenge the government’s SEND funding policy in the High Court tomorrow.

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The NEU has looked at data published by the Department for Education, which shows that in January 2019 the number of children and young people with EHC plans who were not in education included:

  • 1,203 children of school age with EHC plans who were not currently in school but awaiting placement in a school;
  • 1,508 children aged 16 or over who were not currently in education but were awaiting a placement;
  • 5,876 young people who were not in employment, education or training (NEET).

DfE figures for 2017 show that there were then 4,050 pupils and young people with EHC plans or statements of special educational needs who were “awaiting provision”, including "a small number" who were NEET.

“We welcome the Department for Education’s efforts to make public the true situation for far too many young people with SEND, but it only serves to demonstrate the parlous state we are in,” Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said.

“The fact that over 8,500 young people with SEND are currently not receiving any form of education is appalling and shows that the government has not listened to teachers and parents who are tirelessly campaigning for more funding.

“This week’s court case, in which a group of parents have taken legal action against the secretary of state and chancellor of the exchequer, highlights the severity of the current situation in SEND, as well as the determination of families, schools and activists to fight for a fair education for all.”

The three families, from North Yorkshire, Birmingham and East Sussex, at the centre of tomorrow's High Court hearing are calling on education secretary Damian Hinds and chancellor Philip Hammond to increase funding for local authorities.

Anne-Marie Irwin, the lawyer and public law specialist at Irwin Mitchell who is acting for the families, said: “This is the first time that the government have been taken to court over its decisions on SEND funding.

“So many families are desperate to know that their children will be able to get the support they require to access an education, yet so many councils at the moment are resorting to budget cuts, which puts that under serious threat.

“Our clients in this case simply feel that enough is enough and want the government to reconsider the level of support it is providing to local authorities on the issue of special educational needs.”

Gillian Doherty, founder of the SEND Action campaign network, said: “This is the 21st century, in one of the richest countries in the world. Our children are being failed by a system in a tailspin. It’s appalling that parents have had to take their own government to court to try to resolve this crisis.”

The DfE has been contacted for comment.



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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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