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(UK) $13B for 'high needs funding'; 60% increase since 2019-2020

Jan 16, 2024, BBC News: Parents meet MPs to call for special needs support
Parents campaigning for better support for children with special educational needs (SEN) have taken their message to Parliament.

The group spoke to MPs about the challenges they came up against when trying to get the right help for their children.

Kathryn Mulroy, from Keighley, West Yorkshire, said families faced a "constant battle".

The Department for Education said it had a series of reforms on the way through an improvement plan unveiled last year.

Ms Mulroy has three children, two of whom have autism and complex disabilities.

Her seven-year-old son and five-year-old daughter both go to a specialist school but she said the difficulties she faced getting those places "shouldn't be there for families".

'Constantly phoning'

She told BBC Look North the process took over parents' lives and felt like a "constant battle". She said: "It's a lot of stress, you are constantly phoning the SEN department at your local authority."

Sandeep Baines, a mother of two autistic children from Pudsey in Leeds, said her six-year-old son needed a space in a specialist school but "there are no places".

She said she worried about her children's future and whether they would get the help they needed.

She said: "The fighting to get them the right education and fighting to get them the support they need is so draining."

Ms Mulroy and Ms Baines were among those who formed the group SEND Reform England to campaign for better support.

They travelled to Westminster to talk to MPs at a drop-in event organised by Labour MP for Norwich South, Clive Lewis.

Julian Sturdy, Conservative MP for York Outer, who was at the event, said there was a "strong argument" that the government should be putting more money into SEN support.

'Less bureaucracy'

However, he said while some schools had very good SEN provision, "some schools don't do as well so it's not all about money, it's about awareness as well".

Alex Sobel, Labour MP for Leeds North West, said it was "one of the biggest and most difficult issues" he faced in his surgeries and casework.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said the government had published its Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision improvement plan last year.

This outlined "how we are improving support across the country, with earlier intervention, consistent high standards and less bureaucracy", the spokesperson said.

They added: "High needs funding for children and young people with complex needs will be increasing to a total of over £10.5bn [$13.3B] in 2024-25 – an increase of over 60% since 2019-20."


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