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(UK) "Thousands of [special needs] children have been left at home waiting for school places"

June 18, 2018, (UK) Independent: Councils call on government to increase funding after thousands of children with special needs left without school places https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/councils-letter-damian-hinds-school-funding-children-special-needs-places-unions-a8403326.html Dozens of councils across the country have called on the education secretary to urgently boost special needs funding as thousands of children have been left at home waiting for school places. Parents have been forced to quit their jobs – and in some have waited for several years for a place in the right provision – to ensure their child with special needs is supported, experts say. Local authorities have said they are “deeply concerned” that funding cuts are making it even more difficult to place children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in schools. A letter – signed by 39 local authorities and education unions – calls for councils and schools to be given more money to make sure that children with SEND get the support they need. “We urge the government to act quickly on this matter,” the letter, which is addressed to Damian Hinds, says. The number of youngsters with special educational needs, plans or statements has been rising – as has the demand for special school places. Meanwhile, funding pressures have made it harder for schools and local authorities to provide specialist provision to the most vulnerable learners. More than 2,000 children with complex needs have “no education provision at all” due to inadequate funding, according to the new letter – which is backed by some Conservative-led councils. Jo-Ann D’Costa Manuel, director of charity Autism Parent Empower, said she knows of parents whose children have been at home for two years while they wait for the right specialist school place…. Ms D’Costa Manuel, who has a nine-year-old son with autism, told The Independent that some parents have resorted to home schooling their children because they feel “failed by the system”…. “It almost feels like you are being constantly punished for daring to have a disabled baby. It feels like you are constantly dealing with brickbats thrown in your direction,” she said. The Department for Education announced last month it was allocating £50m for the expansion of special schools – but unions and councils say it “will not solve the long-term challenges” they face…. …The high-needs budget for pupils with special educational needs is £6bn this year – the highest on record, with core schools funding rising to £43.5bn by 2020 – 50 per cent more per pupil in real terms than in 2000. …