‘Having to fight to get the right support’ – Government on delivering 60,000 more special needs places

The Education Secretary has announced the government ‘has a plan’ to deliver 60,000 more special needs places to meet the needs of pupils and families.

The government said a ‘record annual investment’ of £850 million is going to councils to create new places for young people with special education needs and disabilities and in alternative provision (AP) in mainstream and special schools.

The investment will also improve the accessibility of existing buildings, according to the government. 

They said this will provide specialist support for children with autism, learning difficulties, mobility difficulties and more to meet their extra needs.

This specialist support includes extra encouragement in their learning, help communication with other children and support with physical/personal care difficulties, like using the toilet and getting around the school safely. 

Gillian Keegan, Education Secretary, stated: “All too often I hear from parents with children who have special educational needs having to fight to get the right support. That’s why this government has a plan to deliver 60,000 more places that meet the needs of these pupils and their families.

“We are also continuing to invest in the school estate, so all children are taught in the best classrooms for generations to come.

“Whether in special or mainstream schools, we’re ensuring every child gets a world-class education, and the support they need to reach their potential.”

Responding to the Education Secretary’s comments on SEND, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “It seems everyone, even the government, now accepts we are in the middle of a full-blown crisis when it comes to SEND.

“However, this hasn’t just come out of nowhere – we have been warning about this for years and it is immensely frustrating just how little progress the government has made on actually tackling the issue.

“Successive secretaries of state have acknowledged the scale of the problem but none have seemingly been able to find the solutions.”

Paul added: “After more than a decade, talk of ‘long-term plans’ and ‘record levels of investment’ will carry little sway with parents and school leaders who are trying to navigate their way through this crisis. 

“If the government does not get a grip, vulnerable young people will continue to suffer.”

The government said it is ‘sticking to the plan to ensure every child can receive the education they need to success, where hard work is rewarded and aspiration is celebrated’.

The funding is part of the £2.6 billion investment between 2022 and 2025 to help to put an end to families having to fight for the right support for their children, according to the government.

With 60,000 new places across the country, according to the government, this is helping to increase capacity, following a decrease in pupils in special schools from 1997 to 2010.

The government said that it will be opening 92 new special free schools, on top of 108 that are open.

30 successful applications to run special free schools have been announced today. In the North West, the successful applications to run special free schools are The Sea View Trust in Blackpool and The Cooperative Academies Trust in Salford.

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