London Mayor urged to help tackle 'special needs timebomb'

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A new report warns of a ‘special needs timebomb’ in London with rising numbers of children with SEND and insufficient funding to provide the support they need.

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The report urges the Mayor of London to intervene amid growing numbers of children with SEND and inadequate funding to support them

The London Assembly Education Panel report, which examines the challenge facing children with SEND in the Capital, finds that over 200,000 have some level of special education need or disability (SEND).

It says that in the last decade, there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number with high-level needs and the types of need are increasingly complex.

On top of this, the report highlights ‘considerable concerns’ about the insufficient level of funding provided to schools for pupils with high needs.

According to the Education Panel, despite high needs allocations to boroughs increasing between 2013-14 and 2016-17, across London, many local authorities are cross subsiding SEND support and carrying forward large deficits.

The report goes on identify a series of interventions where it says the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, can make a ‘real difference’, including in the early years, providing more support for London’s special education needs co-ordinators, and for young people as they exit the school system and move into work.

It calls for the Mayor of London to:

  • Keep pressure on Government to ensure real-term funding increases per pupil with high needs and the creation of new special schools, where the need is greatest.
  • Support a trial in the London Early Years Hubs to create a best practice template that uses the EYFS profile to evidence any concerns about a child’s knowledge, understanding and abilities.
  • Support the creation of a dedicated training centre for special educational needs co-ordinators.
  • Boost the availability of high-quaity place spaces for children and young people with SEND and fund initiatives to facilitate journeys on public transport.
  • Appoint a SEND champion to promote the views of children and young people with SEND within London Government.

Jennette Arnold, chair of the Education Panel, said, ‘London faces profound challenges regarding Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), in terms of capacity and funding. I’ve witnessed some truly inspiring work being done by nursery staff, teachers, teaching assistants, health professionals, council staff and volunteers, but this sector needs close attention.

‘The Mayor has a critical role to play in addressing the challenges we have found. He needs to up his game and include SEND in his Social Inclusion Strategy. Demand is increasing and what will happen with these children and young people in terms of their future job prospects? Our children deserve better’

A spokesman for the Mayor of London said, ‘The Mayor continues to call on the Government to suitably fund our education system and will consider the education panel’s recommendations in full.’

  • To read the report, 'Special Educational Needs and Disability Provision in London', click here
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