SEND

Threat to SEND service by £1m

The Support for Learning Service is under threat of £1m worth of cuts. Part of the framework of support for children with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) in Tower Hamlets that has helped families with early intervention so they can achieve school readiness. We have lost portage, we are about to lose the last of our public day nurseries and now another service helping families, who already face so many daily challenges, is under threat.

We have been told by Mayor Biggs and Danny Hassell that services for children will continue in exactly the same way after closing the public day nurseries. Support for Learning makes services available to children with SEND whether they attend a fully integrated day nursery with children’s center attached or a private nursery. However, the support for the deaf available at our day nurseries took 15 years for the Support for Learning teachers to establish with each practitioner able to sign. Now the Support for Learning service must do its best to meet the increasing needs of children no longer encouraged to attend the same setting with a greatly reduced budget and fewer staff to support the ongoing day to day work required.

Tower Hamlets council also wins 2nd prize of councils in the UK for making families with SEND wait the longest time for an Educational Health Care Plan or EHCP. One family had to wait over three years!

Written by a teacher and National Education Union member at the Support for Learning Service.

Following Mayor John Biggs’ decision in November to close the three remaining local authority day nurseries (LADNs), a further blow to families of children with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) is looming.  The council is considering a cut of roughly £1m in the Support for Learning Service (SLS) budget in response to a projected overspend of £2.6m in the High Needs Block budget– a grant from central government for children with special needs.

The proposed cut would amount to a reduction of more than 40% in the SLS budget.  A review of the service is being conducted by the council.  Parents and partners in education and health will be consulted this Spring.

The SLS was created some 30 years ago to ensure that children with significant sensory, physical and learning needs could be fully included in their local mainstream school rather than being sent to special placements far from home and at great cost, both social and financial.

Many of the deaf and disabled children who benefitted from the early identification of their needs, specialist assessment and support at the LADNs, have gone on to thrive in local schools with help from the SLS.  Nationally, numbers of children being identified with SEND are increasing:  the Tory government’s response has been to restrict councils’ ability to ‘bail out’ their overspend of the High Needs Block.

Our work as specialist teachers ranges from supporting families of babies with a diagnosed hearing or visual impairment to advising schools on how to prepare for pupils with a range of diagnosed conditions including childhood cancers, degenerative and life-limiting conditions.  Pupils with language and communication difficulties and dyslexia are assessed and training is provided for their teachers and teaching assistants.

A cut to funding of this magnitude represents a blow to inclusion and could see a rise in legal challenges by families via tribunals.   The needs of some pupils are likely to be identified later, resulting in more acute difficulties in school, a greater need for more expensive intervention, and ultimately, worse outcomes for our young people.

The minutes of the Schools Forum can be found here.

Deeds Not Words

At Tower Hamlets Mums we believe parenting is hard enough when your child has no additional needs. We want our council to support families who are already going through scary and difficult times.  We hope you will join us in contacting your local councillors about your concerns for these services.

Every child deserves the chance to achieve their greatest potential. Early Intervention is key to making this happen and can truly transform lives.

You can find out who your councillors are with write to them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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