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(UK) Thousands of special needs kids travel hundreds of miles to school

April 28, 2022, Schools Week: Pupils with special needs travel hundreds of miles to school
The Broken Special Needs System

At least 3,000 children travel 20 miles or more away from home Thousands of children with special needs are being placed in schools 20 miles or more away from their home. Figures obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) show at least 43,000 children with education, health and care plans (EHCPs) are in schools or other education establishments outside their home council area. Of those, more than 3,300 have to travel an estimated 20 miles or more away – the maximum distance MPs on the education select committee suggested that children in the care system (a similarly vulnerable group) be moved away from where they live. Some of the distances are much higher. One child who lives in Tameside, Greater Manchester, has been placed in education 650 miles away in the Shetland Islands, with another from Cornwall at school 500 miles away in Fife. In total, more than 100 children were placed in excess of 200 miles from where they live. Seven children from North Tyneside are placed in Harrow, north-west London, around 270 miles away. Two young people from Islington are being educated in Cumbria – 280 miles in the opposite direction.... ‘CHILDREN HAVE TWO-HOUR SCHOOL RUNS – TO WHAT BENEFIT?’ At times the situation appears self-defeating. Windsor and Maidenhead places one-fifth of all its EHCP pupils in more costly independent or non-maintained schools, because its own state capacity is used up by other local authorities. In Rutland, in the East Midlands, 38 per cent of children with an EHCP have been placed there by other local authorities – the highest proportion in England. In turn, Rutland has the highest proportion of children educated outside its borders. ... COUNCILS SHELL OUT FOR PRIVATE TAXIS TBIJ found that, due to lack of transport provision, more than 13,000 special needs and disabled children in England travel to and from school in private taxis as the sole child in the car. Not only do these journeys generate a huge expense for the councils in question but, for a child with ADHD or autism, they can be enormously stressful. ... Proposals in the government’s SEND review aim to resolve such issues. Parents or young people have a legal right to request that a particular school or college is named in an EHCP. But ministers want parents to instead choose a school from a “tailored list” of settings, based on provision available within the local area. Out-of-borough places could be offered, but would likely become rarer. The first available place based on the parent’s preferred schools would be allocated and named on the child’s EHCP.


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