SEND In The Frame ! What A Surprise ? High Court Showdown : 26 June On Spending Cuts & Other News

**Pupils with special educational needs to stage funding protests

Children and families will hold marches this week in 25 towns across England.**


**_Thousands of families with children who have special educational needs and disabilities (Send) are to stage protests across England over funding cuts they say have left many pupils without adequate support and unable to attend school.

Parents, disabled children and their supporters will march in more than 25 locations on Thursday, including London, Bristol, Birmingham, Widnes, Worthing, Stevenage, Leamington Spa, Matlock, Colchester and Dorchester.

It is part of a campaign by families whose struggle to secure the support their children need to access education has pushed the issue of Send funding up the political agenda before the government’s forthcoming spending review.

Among the protesters will be Emma Parker, a primary school teacher from Durham whose 13-year-old son, James, will hand in a petition to Downing Street calling on the government to end what campaigners say is a national crisis in Send funding and delivery.

James has spent 29 months out of school over the past five years as a result of exclusions and reduced timetables. While his primary school worked hard to meet his needs, James was unable to find a secondary school that would accept him, so spent nine months at home without even a tutor.

“I’ve got a child who has not been in full-time education for five years,” Parker said. “He is struggling to engage with the curriculum. He’s a really, really bright little lad who has been broken by the education system. We want more money for Send. We don’t want our children to be deemed a drain on schools. We need schools to be fully funded and we need child adolescent mental health services to be fully funded.”

The government says funding has increased since the introduction of individual care plans for Send pupils as a result of new legislation in 2014. However, campaigners say the number of children and young people requiring support continues to rise, and demand is outstripping funds.

The Local Government Association estimates councils in England face a Send funding gap of more than £500m this year. Parents denied appropriate support for their children are resorting to legal battles to secure their children’s entitlement.

Families have taken their local authority to the high court to fight cuts to high-needs spending, and a judicial review case is pending against the government, accusing ministers of unlawfully underfunding special needs education.

It took Ella Sayce, of Weston-super-Mare, two years to get an autism diagnosis for her son Blake, five, and a year to finalise his care plan. “It’s been horrible. I’ve been made to feel like a bad parent. It’s barbaric.

“My fear is that we are going back to the 1960s where we were institutionalising people with these disabilities, so it was known about but not seen,” said Sayce, who will be protesting in Bristol. “I want to sustain Blake in mainstream education and give him the most normal life he possibly can get.”

The Department for Education recently announced a call for evidence on funding arrangements for Send pupils, which will run until the end of July. A year-long inquiry by the Commons education select committee, which will report later this year, was told repeatedly by witnesses that the system was not working.

Poppy Rose, the co-founder of Send National Crisis, said: “The government said austerity was over, but families say the lack of funding for support is having a detrimental effect on the mental health, life chances and outcomes of disabled children and young people.

“It is an intolerable situation that means access to rights, equality, inclusion and the prospect of a bright future are being wrongfully denied to many thousands of disabled children. This is not just a national crisis; it is a national scandal.”

The Department of Education said: “Funding for the high needs budget is a priority for this government and we know that councils and schools are facing pressures –that’s why in December, we provided an extra £250m up to 2020 to help manage these costs. This takes the total amount that we have allocated for high needs funding to £6.3bn this year, compared to £5bn in 2013.

“At the same time, the education secretary has been clear that we are working closely with the sector as we approach the spending review, we have launched a call for evidence to make sure the funding system is getting money to the right places at the right time and we are revising the SEND Code of Practice to improve ways to identify and meet special educational needs.”_**

**Families rally against special educational needs funding cuts.

Children, parents and teachers march across England over " National crisis " in Send funding.**


_Thousands of families with children who have special educational needs and disabilities have staged protests across England against funding cuts.

On Thursday afternoon, children, parents and teachers marched in 28 towns and cities including London, Bristol, Leeds and Birmingham in the first national action of its kind.

Organisers of Send National Crisis said about 1,000 people attended a rally in Parliament Square in Westminster. Among the speakers was the campaigner Emma Parker, whose son James has spent 29 months out of school over the past five years because of exclusions and reduced timetables.

“We have thousands of children across the UK who are not in schools, who are on reduced timetables and who don’t have access to the schools that they desperately need,” Parker said.

Ahead of the rally, James delivered a 13,000-signature petition to Downing Street to call on the government to end the “national crisis” in special educational needs and disability (Send) funding and delivery.

Statistics released on Thursday by the Department for Education show the number of children and young people with special educational needs or education, health and care plans in England increased by 34,200 (or 11%) from 2018.

An analysis by the National Education Union published in April found that special needs provision in England had lost out on £1.2bn because of shortfalls in funding increases from central government since 2015.

Parker said a lack of educational funding for children would mean they were more reliant on taxpayers in the future. “They’re putting monetary value on our children and it’s like what comes first, the money or the children,” she said.

The TV presenter Carrie Grant, whose four children all have special needs, spoke to the crowd in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the square. She said her family’s experience of getting the appropriate educational support for three of her children who have complex special needs had “been shocking to say the least”.

Grant added: “The world that they [disabled children] face is a world that is just not ready.”

Though the government has said legislation introduced in 2014 increased funding for Send pupils, campaigners have said the growing number of children and young people requiring support is outstripping funds.

The Local Government Association estimates that English councils face a Send funding gap of more than £500m this year.

Melissa Acar, a 19-year-old with a developmental language disorder and cognition and learning disabilities, said she was at the rally in Westminster “to get [her] voice heard”. After achieving seven A
-C GCSEs, Acar was refused admission to her local sixth form because they said they lacked the funding to support her.

She challenged the decision at the high court and won, but Acar said the situation left her with “a mental health problem and constant emotional breakdowns”.

Lindsey Valkenborgs, 35, who works for the National Deaf Children’s Society, attended the rally with her daughter, Lexie, six, who has been deaf since birth.

Lexie receives support from a teaching assistant (TA) in a mainstream school but Valkenborgs is fearful about more funding cuts. “She might lose that support and the only reason she’s doing as well as she is today is because she has a TA and she has that individual support,” she said._

A little more … report from YorkieLand … a video available on the web page :

**Yorkshire families protest over special educational needs " Crisis. "

A generation of Yorkshire’s young people are being denied a voice in their future, campaigning parents warned as they staged protests demanding action in response to a “ Crisis ” in education.**


**_Dozens of rallies were held in towns and cities nationwide as a 12,000-strong petition was delivered to Downing Street yesterday, calling for action for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

Families from across Yorkshire, gathering in Leeds, spoke of their fears over funding shortfalls and amid claims of a system in disarray.

Many determined young people, some in wheelchairs or speaking with the assistance of a family member, made their way onto the stage to share personal stories as they fought for support.

And while they were campaigning for radical action, there was a sense of pride as they took their place among the crowds. Because for the first time, campaigners say, their voices are being heard.

“That is all they want,” said Nadia Turki, co-founder of the SEND National Crisis group and organiser of the Leeds rally. “For them, and their families, it’s just one battle after the next.

“It’s relentless. And there isn’t a parent here today that won’t tell you the same thing.”

“I want access to the same education options that my peers get”

Among them is a defiant teenager in a wheelchair, who has painted his own placard to wave.

“I don’t want to be a gardener, of work in a cafe,” 19-year-old Alfie Fox, from North Yorkshire, told the crowd as he was joined on stage by his mother, Kerry, who reads out his words. “But those are the options that are given to me. I’m an artist. I can’t study art.

“I want equality, for me and my friends. I want access to the same education options that my peers get – and I do not. I want people to start listening to us.”

Teenager Jack Zito, standing at the top of Leeds Art Gallery steps, spoke about his seven-month wait to see a trainee psychologist after being diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder.

“I was one of the lucky ones. Some people have to wait years,” he told those gathered for the demonstration.

“I want to change this today. When these young people grow up, we will have a lost generation. We are abandoning our children at their most vulnerable.”

Funding " Cuts. "
According to the National Education Union (NEU), special needs provision in England has lost out on £1.2bn in funding since 2015, as funds awarded to local authorities have failed to keep pace with rising demand.

Children in Leeds have seen High Needs budget cuts of £20m in the last two years alone, the city council’s executive member for learning, Coun Jonathan Pryor, told The Yorkshire Post.

“To cut that money, as need rises, is having huge consequences,” he said yesterday. “That is not good enough. These are the most vulnerable people. The funding is horrendous.”

Rachel Court, from Morley, is a member of the campaigners’ group Disability Empowerment Action Leeds (DEAL).

Her son, Oliver, has a rare genetic disorder and uses a wheelchair. Now aged 19, she said, his options are narrowing.

“We are just so frustrated,” said Ms Court. “Education has been left behind. Our children have been left behind. I have a younger son, he’s got the world at his feet. Oliver, in comparison, doesn’t.”

The Government has defended its position, with children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi saying: “Our ambition is for every child, no matter the challenges they face, to have access to a world-class education that sets them up for life.

“Funding for the high needs budget is a priority for this Government and we know that councils and schools are facing pressures – that’s why in December we provided an extra £250m up to 2020 to help manage these costs.

“This takes the total amount that we have allocated for high needs funding to £6.3bn this year, compared to £5bn in 2013.”_**

Katherine Runswick-Cole is Professor of Education at the University of Sheffield and the mother of two young adults, one of whom has been through the SEND system.

**How special needs families are finding their voice in SEND battle – Katherine Runswick-Cole.

Protests at a rally in Leeds staged over SEND funding.** >


**_LAST week, I ran up the steps of Leeds City Art Gallery to take the microphone to speak at #SENDNationalCrisisRally. Wobbly knees and shaky voice aside, I wanted to be on those steps because the crisis in special needs education and funding not only drives my research as an academic but has also affected my family.

It is a crisis that has been a long time in the making and it has been hidden from public view and ignored by politicians for far too long. The hashtag #SENDNationalCrisis basically does what it says on the tin – the aim is to raise awareness of a crisis in education for children categorised as having ‘SEND’ – special educational needs and disability.

Across the country, 28 marches brought together children, young people, their parents/carers, teachers and support workers, and disabled people while members of the national news media looked on. You don’t have to look to far to find evidence of the current crisis. As the campaign headlines tells us:

[u]Pupils with SEND are six times more likely to be excluded than pupils without SEND.

Over half of local authority SEND services have failed their Ofsted and / or Care Quality Commission inspection.[/u]

The numbers of parents appealing to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal has risen by 80 per cent since 2015. Nine out of 10 parents will win their Tribunal appeals.

Complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman are up by 150 per cent and 87 per cent of complaints are upheld.

The IPPR North found that the total higher needs block funding that supports children with SEND has fallen by 17 per cent per eligible child nationally since 2014/15. In Yorkshire, spending has been cut by 21 per cent.

Despite these harsh realities for children and families, standing on those steps the sight of a couple of hundred people took my breath away. There was a time when I could not have imagined this protest.

When my son was little, like so many families before and after me, we fought for him to have support in school. As a young child he picked up a host of labels including ‘special educational needs’. As a parent, you go on a steep learning curve. The SEND system is complicated, and deeply adversarial. Meet any parent of a child with SEND and they will tell you that they had to fight. And fight we did.

This was in the days before social media. As a family, we were very much on our own. I would spend my mornings hanging on the phone to IPSEA (a registered charity working to improve the life chances of children with SEND) hoping that they would pick up before the line closed at 12.00pm.

Afternoons were often spent in the local supermarket café with a small group of other mothers desperately trying to work out what to do next. We wrote to our local councillors, and to our MP. But we made very little impact on the rationing of services and support already happening in the early 2000s.

The national marches show how far parent-led campaigning has come from small local groups to co-ordinated national action. A national campaign simply would not have been possible without access to social media.

Campaigns like #JusticeforLB and #RightfulLives, led by families, have demanded action on the preventable deaths of people with learning disabilities and the incarceration and abuse of people in assessment and treatment units (ATUs). Through social media, families are speaking directly and publicly to the politicians in charge and the national media is sitting up and taking notice.

But while social media campaigns may be a game changer for some, they are not a silver bullet. Social media is inaccessible to many, the views of adults with learning disabilities, in particular, are often ignored in online debates.

Disabled children and adults have been through the system, they know what needs to change better than anyone else. If we are serious about changing education and the world beyond school for disabled children, we must not under-estimate the value of self-advocacy and this, too, is under threat from cuts.

And finally if, after last week’s protests, you want some advice, Damian Hinds and Matt Hancock, read your Twitter feed. Our children’s lives, and your political careers as Health Secretary and Education Secretary respectively, might just depend on it._**

**Hundreds of special needs pupils " Squeezed " out of school.

More than 1,500 children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) are without a school place in England, with some waiting up to two years for provision.**


The figures, collated by Newsnight, cover 46 English councils (25%), which suggests the real figure may be higher.

One mother told the programme her son had been “squeezed out” of school as a “quick cost-cutting solution”.

The government said responsibility lay with local authorities.

Local authorities do not routinely publish data but a series of Freedom of Information requests made over the past six months show 1,580 children with education and health care plans (EHCPs), which used to be called statements of special educational needs, have no education provision.

The highest numbers came from Stoke-on-Trent (164 children) and Kent (348).

Alex Palmer, six, who has autism, has not had a school place for two years, having been excluded just weeks after starting at a mainstream school in 2017.

“It just became too overwhelming for Alex and within five days of being at school full time, I had that that phone call that I knew was coming… there’s issues and that ultimately your son is facing exclusion,” his mother, Rachel, said.

“Alex shut down completely. He used to write his name and draw and paint and then following how emotionally traumatic he felt that experience was… he wouldn’t hold a pencil, he wouldn’t write”.

And children such as Alex could be just the tip of the iceberg. They are the ones who have an EHCP - but not all children with Send do.

Last year, there were more than 285,000 children with EHCPs in England - but the number of Send children is higher.

Parents can spend months, or even years, trying to get their child assessed for an EHCP and in the meantime there is no statutory requirement for local authorities to keep a register of these children.

In Birmingham, where Alex and Rachel live, a Freedom of Information request revealed 66 children with EHCPs were without education provision- but sources told the BBC’s Newsnight programme there were actually about 250 Send children waiting for a school place. Birmingham Council said it did not “recognise” this latter figure.

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, was not surprised by the numbers across England.

“They reaffirm my concern that this is actually really widespread and there’s a lot of children in this situation… lots of children and parents I’ve met who are spending 18 months, two years looking for that right school, or pinballing between applications to different schools,” she said.

‘We’re full’

Send provision is split between specialist and mainstream schools.

Earlier this year, the government announced an additional £250m to support high needs and an extra £100m for new special school places - but the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates the funding gap for Send education will hit £1.6bn by 2021.

Charlotte Stubbs, the head teacher at Uffculme Special School, in Birmingham, which supports children on the autistic spectrum, said: "This year, we had 19 spaces available for September 2019 [in Year 7] - we had 86 requests for placement.

"In our primary provision, specifically at Years 1 and 2, the class sizes are about seven or eight pupils per class size.

“We’ve had 130 referrals for primary placements this year and we’re full”.

Send places at mainstream schools are also coming under pressure.

The first £6,000 of support for a Send child has to come from the school’s core budget and, put simply, pupils who need specialist help typically cost more than the funding they bring in.

Schools such as Kings Heath Primary, in Birmingham, which has a high proportion of pupils with complex needs, have long subsidised Send support from other parts of the budget. But because of financial pressure, they may have to close places for pupils such as Aaron.

“We don’t want this to happen,” the 10-year-old told Newsnight. “If this doesn’t stop, then people will get split up from each other, friendships will be broken and I really don’t want that to happen, because I like my school and what it’s doing for me.”

The Department for Education said EHCPs had meant more than a quarter of a million children with complex educational needs “are receiving the tailored support they need to thrive”.

“We know that a number of children with EHC plans are waiting for a place in school, having moved to a new local authority area, or waiting for their first primary school place,” a spokesman said.

"Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that there are sufficient school places for all children in their local area.

“We encourage local authorities and providers to work collaboratively so the right range of provision is available for children.”

On 26th June we are challenging the government’s special educational needs and disabilities funding policy at the High Court. If you’ve been affected by SEND cuts, please come along and show your support in front of the Royal Courts of Justice from 9-10am. #SENDNationalCrisis

from twitter

Yep … high noon beckons !

Government set for High Court showdown over legality of SEND funding cuts

Government set for High Court showdown over legality of SEND funding cuts


The government will be taken to the High Court over its cuts to special educational needs funding after a judge ruled in favour of a landmark judicial review.

Families representing pupils with SEND announced in September they were crowdfunding a legal challenge against education secretary Damian Hinds and chancellor Philip Hammond over their high need budget cuts – with Schools Week recently reporting they had hit their target.

Now a judge has considered the evidence submitted by lawyers and ordered the case must be heard in a two-day High Court hearing on the 26 and 27 June.
The hearing will examine whether the government’s current level of funding for SEND is lawful. If found to be acting unlawfully, the government would be forced to rethink its approach to funding for SEND, lawyers said.

The news will pile the pressure on the government, already heavily criticised for the ongoing crisis in high needs funding for councils, and whose recent £250 million boost was dismissed as not enough.

The families, supported by campaign group SEND Family Action, from North Yorkshire and East Sussex believe government grants are leaving councils unable to fulfil legal obligations to pupils with disabilities.

Anne Marie-Irwin, public law and human rights lawyer at the firm, said the families feel they “have been left with no choice but to bring this action” and are pleased the High Court “recognises that SEND funding is an issue which needs to be looked at urgently in detail”.

She added: “While we are prepared to put forward strong legal arguments in court on behalf of the families, we would rather the government re-examine its position and come up with a solution which will benefit families nationally.”

It comes as families in other areas await the outcome of two judicial reviews against Surrey council, and Hackney council, both heard in October and to do with planned SEND cuts. Neither outcomes have been announced.

Ofsted’s boss Amanda Spielman also made the plight of special educational needs pupils a key part of her speech about the inspectorate’s annual report in December, mentioning the “extreme lengths” families are going to to secure support for pupils.

**I had special needs help in school. But the doors that were opened for me are closing.

Gerry Hart.

Without support, I would have floundered. The squeeze on school funds today means children’s potential is being squandered/**


Anyone watch the Tory leadership debate on Tuesday night? Miserable spectacle though it might have been, something of wider interest did slip through the cracks. Amid the verbal jostling to determine who the biggest, bounciest Brexit boy in the room was, the five leadership candidates were forced to account for cuts to services for vulnerable children, including special educational needs and disability (Send) provision.

This is not a new issue. Last month, parents, teachers and pupils held protests across the country, decrying what they termed a “national crisis” in provision for pupils. And as someone who personally benefited from Send provision as a child, it is a matter of great concern to me.

I was diagnosed with autism at the mercifully young age of four (if you’re diagnosed at a young age, an advantage that many women and BAME people don’t get, you’re in a position to access and benefit from support much earlier in life). Prior to my entering compulsory education, my parents had to fight tooth and nail with our intransigent local authority to implement the support I would need in school. The council argued that such support would unfairly label me and thus stunt my development, as if, by some bizarre postmodern magic, refusing to acknowledge my needs would make them disappear.

Thankfully, my parents won out and I was granted a SEN statement. This legally binding document spelled out my needs and allocated money towards meeting them. For example, my statement mandated 25% extra time in exams so as to account for my slower processing ability, in addition to allowing me to take tests in a separate room, as I found the presence of other pupils too distracting to work.

Later on, my statement enabled me to attend a mainstream secondary school with a designated provision for children with additional needs, the only one of its kind in my town, even though I lived outside its catchment zone. This not only offered a physical space for pupils who had trouble socialising to go during breaks, but also specialised staff (who I honestly cannot credit enough) who would liaise with other teachers and provide one-to-one help in classrooms when required.

I do not wish to paint the previous system as perfect (it most assuredly wasn’t) but without that support, I would have been left floundering in a deeply flawed education system that would have been unable to accommodate me, let alone be in a position to have acquired a master’s degree in politics or write this piece.

I left compulsory education just after the Conservatives took power in the 2010 general election, so I narrowly escaped the numerous cuts and “reforms” that would mar the subsequent decade. The most obvious change in terms of Send provision has been the replacement of the statement with the education, health and care plan (EHC). Designed to be more comprehensive, these plans cover one’s health and social needs in addition to education up to the age of 25 (whereas a statement was purely educational in focus and only went up to age 16).

While it might sound sensible to roll these areas into a single plan, the all-encompassing approach starts to fall apart in the face of swingeing budget cuts. Funding for EHC plans are not separately allocated for individual pupils, being instead determined by both the school and the local authority in question. However, according to the National Audit Office, government funding for local authorities has decreased in real terms by 49.1% between 2010 and 2017/2018.

According to the National Education Union, funding for Send provision in England has decreased by a staggering £1.2bn since 2015. This comes at a time when the number of children with EHC plans has, as of January 2019, increased by 34,200 (11%) from 2018, placing an additional strain on schools and local authorities. Other services that EHC plans would hinge on, such as Sure Start centres and mental health provision, have also been severely cut.

The cumulative effect of these reforms has been devastating. There are multiple reports of academies restricting the admission of children with EHC plans, prompting calls for a judicial review of cuts to Send spending.

Research from the London School of Economics has also found that 26% of pupils with additional needs transition to a different school between preschool and reception as opposed to 18% without. Some parents are having to send their children to schools at the opposite end of the country, far from their family and community. Disruptions like this can prove incredibly distressing to Send pupils.

Children with additional needs are more than capable of attaining the same level of success as their peers if those needs are adequately catered to. Already we are starting to see a wave of prominent autistic people enter the public arena, such as climate activist Greta Thunberg, alongside a global and ever-growing neuro-diversity movement.

How will the newer generation of children, who were denied the same level of support afforded to people like me, fare when they leave education? How much potential is being squandered in the pursuit of economic efficiency? By denying them the support they need to stay afloat in an already deeply flawed education system, Send pupils are having their futures stolen from them.

Which brings me back to the Tory leadership debate. Before devolving into a discussion about tax cuts versus public spending, the five remaining candidates fell over one another to praise service providers for vulnerable children and offer empty promises of increased funding.

Michael Gove was the only one to signal anything even vaguely concrete by way of protecting funding in real terms for individual children. Given he was the architect of the mass academisation of the schooling system during his tenure as education secretary, however, I’d only trust him as far as I could throw him. No, these men represent a party that has, through successive cuts to vital services, all but shut down the possibility of subsequent generations benefiting from the opportunities I had.

• Gerry Hart is a politics master’s graduate and a former subeditor for Newcastle University’s student newspaper, The Courier

Under starter’s orders … and … there off !

No more bets … book is now closed !

**Families fight government in court over 'Chronic underfunding " for special needs.

Case to argue councils are unable to provide education to children with Send because of cuts.**


**_Families with children who have special educational needs and disabilities (Send) and their supporters have staged an emotional demonstration outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, before a legal hearing challenging government funding cuts.

They were there on Wednesday to support three families, from Birmingham, East Sussex and North Yorkshire, who have put their names to what has been described as a landmark case against the education secretary, Damian Hinds, and the chancellor, Philip Hammond. It will argue that the government’s Send funding policies are unlawful.

It is the first time the government has been taken to court over Send funding, which has come under intense scrutiny amid growing complaints from families that their children were losing vital educational support to which they are entitled.

Lawyers representing the families will argue that central government funding cuts to local government mean councils have been unable to fulfil their legal duty to provide education to children with Send. The judicial review hearing before Mr Justice Lewis is expected to last two days.

Standing before the courts, families and young people with Send described their experiences of the system. Mary Riddell, of Great Barr in Birmingham, is one of those named in the action. Her daughter Dakota, 10, has a number of conditions including cerebral palsy, global development delay and muscle disorders clonus and dystonia.

Riddell told supporters she had had to fight for every single provision for her daughter: “The fight is real, exhausting, mindblowing. I’m here today to fight for what is right and to fight for my daughter’s rights. Local authorities are so chronically underfunded, there’s no way they can meet demand.

“The situation as it is cannot continue or else Dakota and a huge number of other vulnerable children will ultimately lose out. We feel like our concerns have been repeatedly ignored on this issue and we hope this action will ensure the government finally sits up and pays attention.”

Also bringing the case are the families of 15-year-old Nico Heugh Simone, from Robertsbridge, East Sussex and 14-year-old Benedict McFinnigan, from Scarborough, North Yorkshire. McFinnigan, who has post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and chronic insomnia, has not been in mainstream school for about two years and is now attending a pupil referral unit for less than three hours a day.

Heugh Simone, who has autism, anxiety and other related conditions, requires special support to remain in mainstream school, yet his family say they have repeatedly faced issues with East Sussex county council over the cost of his requirements.

His mother, Lorraine Heugh, said before the hearing: “We feel like we have been left with no choice but to take this action. We are hopeful the high court will recognise the national emergency that is being created by the lack of Send funding and order action to be taken to redress this issue.”

Among those addressing supporters was Jo Campion, the head of the National Deaf Children Society’s campaign against cuts. She said: “The situation is becoming completely intolerable for families across the country. Funding is being cut year on year and the specialist teachers these children rely on have been savagely cut back.

“This needs to be a massive wake-up call for the government. They need to act immediately to stop this crisis spiralling out of control. If they don’t, an entire generation of disabled children will have their futures stolen from them.”

Also supporting the families outside the court was Tom Shakespeare, a professor of disability research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He said: “I think it’s shocking and not very well known what’s happening in our country for the most vulnerable of people. Somebody has got to stand up for them.”

In response to growing pressure from families, education unions and local authorities, the education secretary has announced a review of Send funding and has called for evidence. Ministers have also indicated it would be addressed in the spending review later this year.

The high court previously rejected cases brought by families of children with special educational needs against Hackney and Surrey councils. The government’s case at the high court is being made by Sir James Eadie QC. The families are represented by Jenni Richards QC.

Anne-Marie Irwin, a public law specialist at Irwin Mitchell acting for the families, said before the hearing: “So many families are desperate to know that their children will be able to get the support they require to access an education, yet so many councils at the moment are resorting to budget cuts, which puts that under serious threat.

“Our clients in this case simply feel that enough is enough and want the government to reconsider the level of support it is providing to local authorities on the issue of special educational needs.”

Gillian Doherty, the founder of the campaigning group SEND Action, said: “The message to Philip Hammond, to Damian Hinds and to our next prime minister couldn’t be clearer: they must take urgent action to provide the support disabled children need and to which they have a legal right.

“This is the 21st century, in one of the richest countries in the world. Our children are being failed by a system in a tailspin. It’s appalling that parents have had to take their own government to court to try to resolve this crisis.”_**

**" Frustration " at pace of Lancashire special needs reforms - but " Better understanding " of local needs.

Parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Lancashire are “ Frustrated ” that they are yet to see the fruits of a major overhaul of the system on which they rely for help, councillors have heard.**


Lancashire’s SEND Partnership – a group comprising the local authority and NHS organisations involved in caring for young people with additional needs – is currently working through a two-year improvement plan following a critical inspection report back in 2017. The county’s special needs services are set to be reinspected later this year.

Sam Jones, chair of Lancashire’s Parent Carer Forum, said that the tangible effects of the improvements being made were still filtering through to families.

“Everybody has put massive amounts of work in – but the children who are the service users are not seeing massive changes yet,” she told a meeting of Lancashire County Council’s children’s services scrutiny committee.

“One of the challenges is that, while we’ve got to put all these procedural changes in place, we have [also] got to keep spinning the other plate [for] the young people who are using the services at the moment.

“I think it’s fair that we acknowledge that – because there are lots of needs that are not being met at the moment.”

Hilary Fordham, representing NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the county council area, said that it was difficult to quantify the level of unmet need. However, she pointed to various aspects of the improvement plan which will help close any gaps which currently exist – including the creation of local area partnerships which bring together representatives from statutory services in each locality.

“[The partnerships are] particularly helping with individual cases where there are difficulties with access to services or understanding [a child’s condition],” Ms. Fordham explained.

“They also have a very important role in…feeding information to those of us who commission services as to what the issues are in particular areas and [so help us to address] the needs of the children.”

The meeting heard that a better grasp of local circumstances had allowed the SEND Partnership to identify a particular need for autism spectrum disorder services in Central and West Lancashire and mental health in the North of the county.

Out of the 94 actions on the improvement plan, 18 are complete, with 46 on-going and on track. A further 22 measures have not yet been started – a reduction of nine since the May – but eight actions are delayed and deemed at risk, an increase of seven over the same period.

Completion dates for the various components of the action plan span 2019 and 2020.

Amongst those which have been achieved are improvements to the way education, health and care plans (EHCPs) are drawn up for individual children – with greater input from NHS and social care services – and a more co-ordinated plan with schools to increase the number of young people with SEND who are in education, employment or training as they progress to adulthood.

Some of the measures which are off target include the launch of a new “local offer” and associated website laying out what parents and carers can expect in terms of services for their children and the creation of an electronic case management system to improve the efficiency of the EHCP process.

Committee members were told that some of the actions which are off target involve making improvements to existing services and do not represent a failure to provide those services at all.

The meeting also heard that there had been a significant upturn in the number of parents and carers offering their feedback on special needs services via an online survey, with responses up from 350 to 2,500 over the last twelve months. The survey is to be further promoted via a revamped Parent Carer Forum website from September.


Lancashire commissions a higher number of special school placements for young people with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) problems than the national average, the county council’s children’s services scrutiny committee heard.

The authority also draws upon “significantly more” short-stay alternative provision places than many other parts of the country.

Committee members were told that Lancashire County Council spends around £23m per year on special school places for young people with SEMH issues – £6.6m of which is in the independent sector.

But Ajay Sethi, head of learning and adult skills, said some of that spending could be reviewed and reinvested “into a local led system, looking at better outcomes for children”.

“Persistent, disruptive and withdrawn behaviours do not necessarily mean a child has special educational needs,” Mr. Sethi said.

“Young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. The key thing in mainstream and special school settings is early intervention in terms of providing key support.

**Special needs education breaking our budgets, warn councils

Sharp rise in pupils requiring special support leads to £100m overspend in England.

Anything but inclusive – no place for three sisters.**


**_County councils across England are warning that the cost of covering special needs education is breaking their budgets, with local authorities overspending by more than £100m last year to meet the sharp rise in demand.

Research by the County Councils Network found that some councils had recorded a 90% increase in young people being given care plans requiring special support, with 27 county councils overspending by a total of £123m in 2018-19 at a time when local authority purses are under severe pressure.

MPs on the education select committee have published a report on school funding in England that calls for £1.2bn to fill the deficit in provision for special educational needs and disabilities (Send).

The county councils said the number of young people on education, health and care plans (EHCPs) requiring additional support in their areas had risen by 50,000 in five years following reforms introduced by the 2014 Children and Families Act.
Carl Les, Conservative leader of North Yorkshire county council and the network’s spokesman on children’s services, said the 2014 reforms – which raised the age limit for statutory support to 25 – had been “well intentioned” but were causing severe difficulties.

“Additional demand … has created a financial crisis for some local authorities, with huge rises seeing costs spiral out of control,” he said. “Counties already face a funding gap of £21.5bn over the next five years, and if we continue to overspend at the level we have done it will break many of our budgets.”

Les added that the cost burden was falling on other service areas, with local authorities shifting funds from “mainstream pupils” and reducing preventive services – an approach that would “only store up problems for the future”.

Councils would be forced to make further compromises on their quality of service, he added. “This is why we are urging the new government to urgently inject funding into special education.”

With the number of children and young people on EHCPs rising from 240,000 in 2015 to 354,000 this year, the impact on county councils has been repeated across England.

The network’s call was echoed by the Commons education select committee, whose report on school funding calls for a 10-year settlement along the lines of that agreed for the NHS last year.

It recommends an immediate increase of £760 per student in further education colleges to “urgently address underfunding” in the sector, with FE and sixth-form colleges among the hardest hit by funding contractions, and a “multibillion-pound investment” in schools.

Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP who chairs the education committee, said he wanted “a proper 10-year plan and long-term funding settlement” for school budgets.

“There is a crisis of confidence in the ability of mainstream schools to provide adequate Send support. This needs to be tackled through increased school funding to support better early intervention,” he said.

Jules White, a secondary school headteacher who helped found the Worth Less? group to lobby for better funding, welcomed the call for an increase in per-pupil funding and said there was an urgent need for more support for special needs education.

He said: “It’s a devastating report and the Department for Education and wider government should be ashamed that they have failed to publicly recognise and then adequately address a funding crisis that’s having severe ramifications for the most disadvantaged children and all schools across the country.”_**

Is Lancashire ready for special needs revisit ?


Lancashire could struggle to show that it has made enough progress in improving its special needs services for young people before regulators return to the county later this year.

That was the assessment of a member of the body set up to turn the service around after a highly critical OFSTED report back in 2017.

Sian Rees, improvement lead for the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Partnership, said that Lancashire County Council and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in its area needed to be “realistic” about the conclusions inspectors will draw during a revisit expected in the coming months.

“We are making progress, but the expectation from OFSTED is…that we will have made progress on every single one of the 12 areas [of weakness identified in the last inspection] by whatever they consider to be a sufficient amount.

“The word from other local authorities who have been through a re-visit is that you [have to be] making an impact – and that’s where we will struggle,” Ms. Rees told a meeting of the Lancashire health and wellbeing board.

She added that council and NHS partners had “probably done a bit too much talking” and now needed to move on to concrete action.

A 94-point improvement plan is being worked through over the next 18 months in an attempt to address the dozen concerns outlined by OFSTED last time they visited. They included a failure to engage effectively with parents and carers and the absence of a plan to improve outcomes for SEND children.

Edwina Grant, director of children’s services at Lancashire County Council, highlighted two specific OFSTED concerns which had been slow to see improvement.

“There are still issues for our young people as they transition [into adulthood]…even though we have made improvements,” Ms. Grant said.

But she presented a more nuanced picture about the process of drawing up education health and care plans (EHCPs) which identify the support which SEND children require.

“I get quite a lot of letters from parents expressing dissatisfaction at the speed of their EHCPs, but we need to [distinguish] between a parent who says they have no plan and a parent who hasn’t agreed to the plan yet.

“We do go the extra mile and work with parents to get the plan exactly how they wish it, but then you suddenly find you have gone outside the [expected] timeframe,” Ms. Grant added.

She also suggested that the complexity of working across so many CCG areas – while not “an excuse” – might explain the level of improvement which it had been possible to make so far.

Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver said he was not surprised that officers were being cautious about the possible outcome of the revisit.

“The last inspection resulted in the most damning report I’ve seen about a local authority service,” he said.

The meeting heard that while SEND services continued to attract complaints, they received an almost equal number of compliments.

HI Chris,
any further reports/info on this?


Still in progress as I type.

( Last main media report ? Sky news … 28 June : 'We had to start fighting' – Mum on High Court battle over SEND funding | UK News | Sky News )

One of over 40 ongoing issues I trawl through daily … for my sins !

What will the forum do when I finally hang up me deerstalker ???

Thanks Chris.

I think there needs to be a similar social care challenge by disabled/families of disabled … (we are all just too busy caring and juggling to do it.)

Chris, you aren’t thinking of giving up your News role, just yet, surely?! If you have a talent - use it!


More like explotation , Melly … ???

Filling a chasm that CUK should be doing !!!

After all , what’s the expertise in simply making Internet searches ?

Lost on most posters ???

As I type , thinking of ways to help the food banks more … especially my fledgling local one.

The main difference is the users … trapped in the System at the most basic level.

( Even the ladies running my local one flinch everytime a child accompanies their parent / guardian. )

Carers ?

Only they , collectively , can change things.

Hiding behind their role as carers is no excuse.

Hi Chris,
You get a lot more readers than you do comments - myself included - because the news is so depressing. Often, I’m speechless. I tend to stick to the threads that interest me/ are relevant to our situation when in member mode ( and not in mod mode,)

Spec for forum news editor: interest in the news, passion to keep carers informed, IT skills, ability and willingness to devote time …

We have food banks here we donate too.

In our city this summer, there is a free scheme that offers food and activities to children four days a week for a month in various venues. Leaflets went out via schools etc


Good to see your manor responding to the call !

I trust that the CUK team are also contributing today in their curry / chips / bovril visit to the second city ???
( When many parents need to work during the school holidays , often leaving the eldest sibling in charge of the younger ones ,
who ensures that the eight year old has enough to feed his / her younger siblings ? )


Surge in reports of children being left at home during school holidays, NSPCC says.

Charity reveals 21 per cent rise in reports of children being left unsupervised over summer months.



Massive special report on the BBC web site on children with special needs staying at home :

The children with special needs who stay at home.

**_While most children around the UK are now on their school holidays, many children with special educational needs (SEN) have already been at home for months, in some cases years.

It is a trend which England’s schools standards watchdog Ofsted has described as a “national scandal”.

The BBC visited four children with SEN who spend their school days at home._**

The children with special needs who stay at home - BBC News

Picture gallery completed with individual stories.

**Parents devastated by closure of Bristol special needs school.

Children " Traumatised " by sudden closure of St Christopher’s over safeguarding concerns.**


**_Parents have expressed their devastation at the sudden closure of a special needs residential school in Bristol, which left their children – who have severe and complex learning difficulties – distraught and without suitable alternative placements.

Parents were called at work and summoned to pick up their children from St Christopher’s – an independent special school and care home in Westbury Park in the north of the city – after the schools’ regulator Ofsted suspended its registration because of safeguarding concerns.

Police have confirmed they are investigating allegations of child cruelty and a number of staff have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. However, parents are furious at the way the closure was handled, with little warning or apparent forethought.

Parents were handed their children’s belongings in black binbags, while some children were bussed to emergency placements around the country. Other parents, who have not lived with their children for years due to their extreme, challenging behaviour, had no choice but to take them home.

One parent described witnessing an “auction”, as alternative providers selected pupils they were willing to take on while rejecting others. Some parents said they were having to give up work to look after their children; others said their children had been traumatised by the experience and had regressed.

“I feel they have left the children in a more vulnerable position than if they would have stayed there,” said James Cole, whose 13-year-old son Jacob has lived at St Christopher’s for a year and a half. “To just pull the plug without any due care to the lives of those children is unbelievable.”

Jacob, who has autism, epilepsy and displays challenging behaviour, is now at home while his parents struggle to find an alternative place. “St Christopher’s was quite unique in that it took so many children with so many complexities because they had such good services there. It’s hard to find that replicated elsewhere.”

Cole said it took months of careful investigations for parents with children like Jacob to find suitable placements, which can cost around £300,000 a year. Yet the sudden closure of St Christopher’s meant some children were moved elsewhere in hours. “It was absolutely dreadful,” he said.

One mother, who asked to remain anonymous, described seeing her 15-year-old son lying on the grass sobbing, his carers lying alongside, cuddling him and crying too. “These poor children. It’s had a massive impact on them,” she said.

“It’s heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking. Parents were standing with their children’s belongings in black bin bags, crying, while their children were being loaded into vans and being sent to other areas of the country. I understand they had their reasons [for closing the school], they are protecting our children, but they’ve made these children very vulnerable.”

Her son is now at home, which will have an enormous impact on family life. “He is very stressed. He is going to miss all the really good carers who looked after him. He had an amazing team around him. We will not let our son go anywhere else now.”

Other parents are having to contemplate travelling huge distances to find a suitable placement. “We live in Bath and we’ve been offered a place in Northumberland or Shrewsbury,” said Kevin Maxwell, whose 16-year-old son, Jonah, is one of the 27 pupils moved out of St Christopher’s last week.

An Ofsted spokesperson said St Christopher’s was inspected in June and judged to be inadequate. The inspection related to the residential part of the provision, rather than the school. “On Monday 29 July, we issued St Christopher’s with a suspension of registration notice because of serious concerns about safeguarding.”

Avon and Somerset police confirmed: “We’re investigating allegations of child cruelty offences relating to a special education school in the north Bristol area. We’re working with our multi-agency partners to ensure that safeguarding measures are being put in place and Ofsted has been notified. Parents have been contacted. Some members of staff have been suspended while our investigation continues.”

In 2016 St Christopher’s was threatened with closure because it had become economically unviable and was taken over by the Aurora Group, a private company specialising in special education care. An Aurora spokeswoman said: “We are deeply concerned about the serious allegations against a small number of staff who were immediately suspended,” a spokesperson said.

“They were reported to the authorities straight away in line with our safeguarding procedures. We are now focused on doing all that we can to support the children, young people, their families and carers, and the many caring and dedicated staff who are affected during this difficult time.”

Dr Jacqui Jensen, executive director of people services at Bristol city council, which is one of the local authorities responsible for pupils at the schools, said: “We are working with the families, other local authorities and a range of partners to review everyone’s individual care plans and make alternative arrangements for the provision of care and education.”_**