Local authorities have seen spending on children with SEND increase sharply in recent years as a result of legislative changes in 2014, which extended their responsibilities for young people up to 25. They now face a ‘financial cliff edge’ due to ‘an explosion’ in the number of children needing support (https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/jun/30/english-county-councils-warn-of-13bn-special-educational-needs-deficit).
In addition, there has been an increase in young people with education, health and care plans (EHCP) from 354,000 in 2019 to more than 430,000 in 2021. This is causing a pressure on budgets and a deficit of specialists.
Due to the lack of funding and specialists, there has been a rising number of permanent exclusions which, in turn, increases the levels of missing education and children being taken out of school. At Panoramic Associates, we deliver specialist resources across the whole of the Public Sector, including SEND and Education Services. Therefore, this issue has often the topic of conversation. Because of this, we conducted a poll to collate the thoughts of our network.
We asked, do you think home schooling is a fair and inclusive option for those students requiring SEND support?
Almost instantly, we saw the majority (60%) of votes maintain that home schooling may not be as effective as mainstream schooling for individuals with SEND requirements. Students with SEND needs can be placed on a very broad spectrum so their needs can vary significantly from person to person.
Although it may be appropriate for some, it’s reasonable to suggest that home schooling probably isn’t the preferred option for many parents as it reduces students’ social interactions and could therefore limit their development of interpersonal skills. However, with a shortage of SEND specialists, many could feel like they are left with very few options.
Nevertheless, 20% of voters deemed home schooling a satisfactory alternative to mainstream schooling, and the remaining 20% of participants were unsure. From this end of the spectrum, we considered the importance of not combining complex factors that have led us here. At second glance, this issue is not as straightforward.
Local authorities stripping out specialist services which previously fed into Education (namely schools), is a direction of travel that began well before the Children & Families Act 2014/2015 was sanctioned, that was previously mentioned. That was part and parcel of the march towards making local authority children’s services operate within the government landscape.
This is a complex issue and a varied talking point. It is worth noting that many children that have been excluded due to a lack of specialist services may not have even have a SEND identified formally. On the other hand, are schools perhaps implying that a particular child should be home schooled to avoid exclusion or that the school environment might not be the best place if the child has SEND? Are parents going down that route because they don’t have another choice?
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