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*** (UK) "Number of pupils with additional needs rose by 10%" in 5 yrs

Sept 20, 2019, (UK) iNews: 'I have to homeschool my child with autism - watching other kids go back to school hurts' Hundreds of children with special needs and disabilities are now without a school place because of a lack of provision Dan isn’t going back to his previous school because he found it hard to cope and became extremely anxious if he was there; Liz describes him having a breakdown over two days during their last efforts to take him in. After being diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) his family have been trying to get him a place somewhere else, preferably a smaller specialist school where staff have an understanding of the sensory overload that children with autism can experience. “Somewhere with less noise, crowds and less sensory input that stresses him out,” Liz explains. However, that isn’t currently option. The family has been trying to find a special school place, but struggled to find one, and their local authority has deemed his previous school suitable. … They haven’t been provided with any aids for home-schooling either. “I’m not a teacher, he’ll be in the run-up to picking his GCSE subjects this coming year, and I don’t have the capability to teach him at that level,” she adds. It’s a situation many families are confronted with. Hundreds of children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) are now without a school place, the BBC revealed in June. The Government promised a review last week into the provision for children with Send, following rising concerns from campaigners that these children are being squeezed out of mainstream education. … Figures show the number of children with Send attending mainstream school has fallen by almost a quarter since 2012. In one local authority, North East Lincolnshire, the number of children with Send in mainstream secondary schools fell by 63 per cent, i's JPI data unit found. There has been a rise in the number of children attending special schools during the same period. But others have ended up in home-schooling, for example when local special schools are full or too far away. “Home-schooling is on the rise but the figures are not very reliable, a lot is undocumented,” says Gillian Doherty, who launched the campaign group Send Action along with other parents to challenge the Government’s decisions about special needs funding with a judicial review…. In Liz’s case, she claims his ASD diagnosis is not being properly factored into the council’s decisions about her son’s education. He experiences sensory overload and selective mutism but neither issue has been included in his statement of needs called an Education Health Care plan (EHCP). An EHCP is a legal document that sets out all the additional support a child with special educational needs should be given. “His ECHP was finalised before his ASD diagnosis,” says Liz. “We also asked for a sensory occupational therapy assessment and a speech and language assessment but those assessments have been refused – so of course, the information isn’t in the plan and it doesn’t reflect the child’s needs.” Assessment rates vary between local authorities and the decisions can be controversial. A group of parents in Sutton, for example, petitioned their council this summer to review previous decisions about EHCPs for children with special needs in the borough…. Liz suspects funding is the issue – fees for a special school would cost more and councils up and down the country are exceeding their budgets for high needs education. The National Audit Office reports the number of pupils with additional needs rose by 10 per cent between 2013 and 2018, but over the same period funding per pupil dropped by 2.6 per cent. Their research also found pupils with Send accounted for 44.9 per cent of permanent exclusions in 2017/18, suggesting schools are struggling to cope. Along with its planned review, the Government recently announced additional funding. The Department for Education told i: “The Prime Minister and education secretary have committed to ensuring that children with special educational needs receive the education they deserve. That is why the Prime Minister recently announced that the Government will be increasing high needs funding by more than £700m in 2020-21.” …


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