top of page

(UK) Northants: ASD parents wait for years for help; politicians promise support

June 27, 2024, BBC News : Politicians challenged on provision for Send pupils

The Conservative leader Rishi Sunak and Labour's Keir Starmer have both pledged to help children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) during visits to Northamptonshire.

Suzi is one of the many parents in the county who wants to know what the different parties will do for people in her situation.

She was told her son, Sam, was having suicidal thoughts while he was still in primary school.

He has been assessed for autism but it could be years before there is a proper diagnosis, and Sam, who is now 13, is now being taught at home.

Suzi told the BBC that when Sam was in Year 5, his primary school sent him to a child and adolescent mental health service.

Suzi added: "They came back to us and said 'actually, he has been having suicidal thoughts', which was a big shock to us because we had no clue."

She tried moving Sam to a smaller school but he discovered during the pandemic that he preferred to be educated at home.

Without an official diagnosis of autism, Suzi thinks he will never get the place he needs in a special school.

She said: "We're 100% stuck in the system and there's not a lot we can do about it." . . .

For Suzi, provision for Send children should be a priority for the party leaders: "What are they going to do towards helping the Send children who are not catered for at the moment?

"There's just not enough people in the schools to cope with the amount of children they have.. When are they going to be getting more Send teachers into schools?"

Sunak, when launching the Conservative manifesto at Silverstone, Northamptonshire, said: “When it comes to Send in particular, we’ve raised the funding by about 60% overall over this Parliament.

“What we’ve talked about in the manifesto is to open many more Send free schools, which is in the manifesto and funded, because we know that provision needs to increase, and the manifesto makes specific provision for that."

Starmer was asked on the subject during a visit to a school in Kettering, Northamptonshire.

He said: "We can’t fix all the problems in one go but, as far as our schools are concerned, the recruitment crisis that we need to address we will start addressing that on day one.

"I want to ensure that every family in Northamptonshire feels that they can get the appropriate education they need, whatever their background and wherever they come from.”

The Liberal Democrat manifesto says the party will: "Tackle the crisis in special educational needs provision, and help to end the postcode lottery in provision, by giving local authorities extra funding to reduce the amount that schools pay towards the cost of a child’s education, health and care plan.

The Green Party said its plans include "better funded support for special educational needs" and free transport for SEND children.

Reform UK said it wanted "an education system that ensures young people are proud of Britain and learn the skills, character and values to succeed in life".


bottom of page