(UK) Bristol: 32K special needs kids not in school; 40% increase in SPED in 5 yrs

June 27, 2022, Bristol Post: 30,000 children and young people with SEND in Bristol are 'educationally homeless'
As of January 2022 there were 32,700 children or young people with EHCPs outside of formal education

When five-year-old Cody was suspended from his primary school for six days when he threw a stone after being backed into a corner, his mother, Kerry Bailes had no idea that her son would end up missing four years of his education. Cody is now nine years old and officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but still does not have a full-time school place. Kerry, who was elected as a local councillor for Hartcliffe and Withywood in 2021, says for almost four years his education has amounted to just one hour a day with a personal tutor. She wanted her son to return to his local primary school with one-to-one support but she claims he has continuously been refused.

She is currently taking legal action against Bristol City Council over the details of her son’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), which is a document parents can apply for to provide additional funding and support for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

Cllr Bailes said when her son's EHCP was redrafted "any decent provision was taken out", adding: "They’ve named a special school when I told them I don’t want a special school.”

Earlier this month the Department for Education (DfE) published the latest statistics on Special Educational Needs in England. In Bristol there are currently 100 more pupils attending special schools than there were last year. The number of children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) in Pupil Referral Units (PRU) in Bristol has risen by almost 40 per cent in five years.
The total number of children and young people with EHCPs who are waiting for school placements, being home educated or not in education, employment or training, has risen to 32,700.

According to earlier DfE statistics quoted by SEND data specialist Matt Keer, the comparative figure for 2018 was just two per cent. In a May article on Special Educational Needs Jungle, he referred to them as being "“educationally homeless”. Jen Smith, a parent and independent journalist in Bristol who specialises in the SEND crisis in the city, pointed out the data on those who are not in education in the city misses those who are enrolled at a school, but actually attending Alternative Provision (AP). AP settings are places that provide education for children who can't go to a mainstream school. She wrote on her page, Chopsy Baby: “It doesn’t feel possible to ever get a transparent picture on what is going on in Send. Nailing down hard numbers feels a bit like chasing ghosts.”