SEND

HAVE YOUR SAY ON SEND FUNDING CUTS

Support Our Children and Young People

A few weeks ago the High Court heard an important judicial review case against the government’s national SEND funding policy. The case was brought by legal firm Irwin Mitchell on behalf of three families with children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who have experienced long and difficult struggles to try to gain much needed support.

They argue that current government funding is insufficient to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND and that the government has breached its legal duty to provide education for all pupils. Their case has been paid for through their own crowdfunding and with the support of the campaign group SEND Action.

The judgment will take some time, and whether or not it is favourable to these families the case has done much to raise awareness and highlight the issues that are facing families, children and young people nationally when it comes to accessing crucial support.

For those of us living in Tower Hamlets, this case serves as a reminder of just how important it is to take action on local SEND funding issues and how this is not just a local but also a national fight with relevance for all.

We still have an opportunity to influence future support for children and young people in our borough. Our council is asking for your input to proposed changes to SEND services.

If we want to continue to build and to live in an inclusive, diverse and fair society, access to education for all is fundamental, and the right of all children and young people to learn and to thrive is fundamental to that. The additional support given to SEND children and young people enables equal participation and inclusion and means that differences are not just accepted but celebrated.

In our borough, the current further proposals for changes to the funding of support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are likely to mean further potentially damaging funding cuts.

Despite the many positive aims stated in Tower Hamlets Council draft SEND strategy such as ‘Even more under 5s reaching the ‘expected level of development’, ‘improved and faster SEND assessments’ and ‘making sure that all parts of the system work together more closely’, what the changes boil down to are more cuts to funding.

These are proposed both through a proposed reduction in top-up payments to schools for children with an Education and Health Care Plan, and through changing to provide a ‘core service’ for the Support for Learning Service. Information about how much is proposed to be cut and where from is not provided in the strategy.

The consultation is again worded in a way that is difficult for many parents to understand, let alone those who speak English as a second language. If you are having trouble responding to the consultation please see refer to these suggested answers.

These proposed cuts come on top of recent closures of public nurseries that provided essential specialist support and wrap-around early intervention services that benefitted not only children with SEND but also arguably all children attending nurseries and childcare provision across the borough.

And these changes come at a time of overall significant cuts in funding for schools both nationally and in Tower Hamlets.

If the three families braving the high court are able to do so surely the council also has a duty to challenge the government on these cuts to funding for essential services. There would be many in our community that would support such a challenge.

The Tower Hamlets council consultation on SEND support and funding in our borough still has 3 opportunities for us to input:

16 July 2019, 5.30pm Consultation Meeting- PDC, 229 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 6AB

17 July 2019, 6.00pm Consultation Meeting-Parents Advice Centre, 30 Greatorex Street, London E1 5NP

23 July 2019, 2.00-5.00pm Consultation Meeting- PDC, 229 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 6AB

Link to draft strategy:  https://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/Documents/Children-and-families-services/Special-education/TH_SEND_Full_Strategy_draft.pdf

Link to online consultation: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/SEND_2019/

Please also join our campaign and support group/look out for further information from Tower Hamlets Mums

Further information:

https://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgnl/council_and_democracy/consultations/Planning_to_make_changes_to_SEND_funding.aspx

 

 

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