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(UK) Bedfordshire: $9M for 159 more special places; 22 SPED kids have no places

August 2, 2021, Biggleswade Chonicle: 'Central Beds' lack of resources means 22 children with SEND may be sent to mainstream schools' https://www.biggleswadetoday.co.uk/news/people/central-beds-lack-of-resources-means-22-children-with-send-may-be-sent-to-mainstream-schools-3331324

SE England Some 22 children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) in Central Bedfordshire face a return to mainstream schooling from September because of a lack of specialist places, according to a local action group. A petition, which currently has around 350 signatures, is due to be delivered to Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive tomorrow (Tuesday) to highlight the issue. Central Bedfordshire SEND Action Group says it has a list of 22 children in this situation, but claims there are more than that affected. The group warns: "These children have to return in September to mainstream settings, which cannot meet their needs. "The SEND panel has agreed to specialist placements for all of these children, but there are none available. "Some don't even have this (option) and will have to stay at home. "We know there are more than 22 children in this situation and this needs to be explored at an extraordinary meeting of CBC's children's services overview and scrutiny committee." The SEND parents are calling on the local authority to hold an urgent meeting to address the many children who have been granted specialist school places, but who've been told that there are none available. The action group's petition explains: "These children will have to return to their mainstream settings, which are unable to meet their special educational needs…. It claims: "There are likely to be many more than the numbers identified by the Central Bedfordshire SEND Action Group…. "Children with SEND have a right to a suitable education and the local authority is catastrophically failing in its legal duty to provide this to many children." A CBC spokeswoman said: "We met 97 per cent of the demand in Central Bedfordshire for more than 300 transfer requests for specialist places in all education health care plans (EHCPs), which were amended and finalised by the statutory deadline of February 15th. "The council continually receives new or amended ECHP requests for specialist places throughout the year…. "We're working with families and schools to ensure that the right level of support is being offered with extra bespoke provision, if this has been identified as a need, until a specialist place is secured. "We're revising our forward plans to meet the growing demand for specialist provision places. "This includes a significant £6.5m [$9M U.S.] capital investment to create more than 100 SEND specialist places over the next three years, with an additional 59 places available from September."