Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) should be taught in mainstream schools – there should be no doubt about that.
And yet, Department for Education statistics show that the number of secondary schools with SEND units for "resources provision" dropped by 14 per cent between 2017 and 2018.
Why? Because high-quality inclusive education costs money. And therein lies the problem.
Austerity in this country is beyond a joke. The lack of an adequate pay rise for teachers is one thing, but that SEND children are missing out on mainstream education is an absolute scandal.
The reality is this: schools can’t cope financially with the children they have, let alone children with needs that require an extra level of support.
And the government shows little concern about it.
The lack of SEND funding
It’s not unusual for primary schools to have 15 children with education health and care plans (EHCP), and 15 more on the waiting list.
Each EHCP places legally binding additional responsibilities on the school and the school staff. This, obviously, requires great care and attention, and some schools find themselves simply unable cope – not only with finding the time to provide dedicated care, but also funding the appropriate physical resources needed within the school.
The consequences of such a situation ripple into every corner of a school. Staff members all want to do their best for every child – but so many find it very difficult to cope with specific needs without the proper resources at their disposal.
The child at the heart of the issue, the child who’s entitled to and desperately needs extra support, misses out. We’ve suffered from austerity for far too long. Surely it’s time to give the schools the resources both they, and the children, deserve.
This cycle of financial deprivation must end – SEND children should not be – and cannot be – on the losing team time and time again.
Colin Harris led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades. His last two Ofsted reports were “outstanding” across all categories