SEND ‘crisis’ petition to be delivered to Number 10

SEND funding petition signed by 12,000 will be delivered to Downing Street today as 27 rallies take place across country

Tes Reporter

Protest marches are taking place across the country, calling for more government funding for SEND support

Thousands of parents, disabled children and young people are taking to the streets today to demand that the government acts to end the "national crisis" in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) funding.

Campaign group SEND National Crisis will deliver a petition of more than 12,000 signatures to Downing Street at midday before holding a rally in Parliament Square.

Campaigners will also gather in 26 other locations across England and Wales in what they say is the first national action of its kind.

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Nadia Turki, co-founder of SEND National Crisis, said: "We can no longer remain silent when our children are suffering for want of adequate government funding.

"We are demanding a necessary change to the framework to ensure workable regulatory controls and to ensure SEND funding is ring-fenced to ensure delivery precisely where it is most needed."

SEND funding cuts

According to the NEU teaching union, special needs provision in England has lost out on £1.2 billion since 2015.

It says funding granted to local authorities has failed to keep pace with demand for SEND provision at a time when the number of children and young people with an education health and care plan has increased by 33 per cent since 2015.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: "This is clearly a crisis, with pupils and parents bearing the brunt of real-terms funding cuts and the wholly inadequate planning by government."

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT union, said: “We are reaching the point where a child with additional needs, be that disability or a mental health condition or behavioural issues, is immediately severely disadvantaged.

"For these children, the idea of fair access to education is nothing more than an empty promise.

“We urgently need the government to recognise the true scale of the problem and to release more money from the Treasury, both for schools and for health and social care services.”

Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi said: "Our ambition is for every child, no matter the challenges they face, to have access to a world-class education that sets them up for life.

"Funding for the high-needs budget is a priority for this government and we know that councils and schools are facing pressures – that's why in December we provided an extra £250 million up to 2020 to help manage these costs.

"This takes the total amount that we have allocated for high-needs funding to £6.3 billion this year, compared to £5 billion in 2013.

"At the same time, the education secretary has been clear that we are working closely with the sector as we approach the spending review, we have launched a call for evidence to make sure the funding system is getting money to the right places at the right time and we are revising the SEND code of practice to improve ways to identify and meet special educational needs."

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