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(UK) Bristol:Schools 'failing most vulnerable children'; 5 month wait for student funding

July 4, 2019, Bristol Live: Bristol education boss says Bristol is 'failing most vulnerable children in city' after mum's plea to help son with SEND Bristol’s education chief has admitted the council is “failing the most vulnerable children in our city” in its services to youngsters with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Cabinet member Councillor Anna Keen has launched an independent review after a report revealed delays to the authority’s delivery of education healthcare plans (ECHPs) for pupils. The admission, at a cabinet meeting at City Hall, came as the mother of an eight-year-old boy with special educational needs made an impassioned plea to members to help her son and others like him. … She said other parents had withdrawn their SEND youngsters from Bristol schools and were educating them at home because they had “lost faith” in the system. … A report to cabinet on July 2, said EHCPs assessments completed within the statutory 20-week time limit plummeted from 89 per cent in 2016 to below 24 per cent in 2019, compared with a national average of 60 per cent. It said 2,900 legally-required annual reviews dating back to 2017 were overdue, adding: “The percentage of annual review notices issued on time is zero per cent.” 'It absolutely does keep me awake at night' Cllr Keen said: “There is clear government underfunding. “I am pleased and proud that a number of extremely positive moves have already taken place. “The resource includes 18 new staff, over half of whom will work on delivering EHCPs on time. “What this means is that a child or young person in need of additional funding and already has to wait the statutory time of 20 weeks will not be waiting any longer than necessary. “I cannot stress enough the distress, uncertainty and the poor quality of life that waiting for funding to be agreed creates for our children and our families. “It absolutely does keep me awake at night, and it should do. “This is the most difficult and the most uncomfortable part of my job and it needs to be. “We all need to feel uncomfortable and stressed and concerned by these figures around children in Bristol. “It gives us a small taste of some of the stress that our children and families feel and it galvanises us to act. “We can and we will do better for Bristol’s children and I will make no apologies for being relentless in driving this work through.”… “Many have been removed from school by desperate parents who have educated them themselves, having lost faith in the whole system…. Cabinet agreed a series of capital investments, including £3.8 million for Kingsweston Special School, £7.2million to KnowleDGE sixth form and £200,000 to develop detailed proposals for deteriorating buildings at Claremont and Elmfield. It also allocated £1.6million over two years to "address the critical failures of statutory compliance".

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