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(UK) Yorks: HUGE increase in SPED; 'FUNDING IS NOT THERE'

Oct 5, 2023, BBC News: Parents call for more special needs school places

N. England

Campaigners have rallied to call for more support and additional specialist school spaces for children with special educational needs (SEN).
Parents at the protest in Leeds on Thursday said they struggled to get suitable educational places.

The number of children receiving SEN support across Yorkshire has risen by 21% since 2016, official figures show.

The Department for Education (DfE) said it had invested £10.5bn i[$13B] in the country's high needs budget for 2024.

Sandeep Bains's son is autistic but is taught in a mainstream school.

Speaking at the protest, she said there were no places in specialist settings for him....

'Breaking children'

Sarah Murphy has two children with SEN and said her family had waited years for "essential appointments and medication".

She said she felt that a "lack of support" in the school system was "breaking children". Ms Murphy was also worried about a DfE contract which she said set a target to reduce the number of Education, Health and Social Care Plans (EHCP) issued by councils for SEN children.

The latest data shows the number of children in Yorkshire receiving SEN support is more than 97,000 in 2023. In 2016 the number stood at 79,590.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, executive member for economy, culture and education at Leeds City Council, said there had been a "huge increase" in the number of pupils needing additional support since the pandemic.

He said the number of children applying for EHCPs in Leeds had risen by 60%.

"We as a council have genuinely struggled to keep up with that demand," he said.

"It's because the funding is not there, the funding doesn't exist."

The number of children receiving support for SEN in Yorkshire has increased by 21% since 2016

Councillor Imran Khan, Bradford Council's portfolio holder for education, employment and skills, said the authority had created more than 1,000 extra specialist school places in the past four years but said more funding was needed.

A DfE spokesperson said councils were "responsible for making sure there is appropriate education for all children in their area, including for children with special educational needs and disabilities".

They said the number of specialist SEN free school places will also double to 19,000 nationally, once those currently being created are complete.


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