Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT says that not enough is being done to guarantee that all pupils with additional needs get the support they are entitled to.
Mr Whiteman’s comments come as NAHT hosts a conference on SEND education today, with hundreds of school leaders, teachers and experts gathered in London to discuss the challenges facing schools and to share expertise.
Mr Whiteman said: “The picture facing schools supporting children with special educational needs is bleak. Not only are school budgets at breaking point, there have been severe cuts to local authority health and social care provision.
“All too often, young people their families are left feeling like second-class citizens in the education system, when what they really need is first-class support.”
NAHT’s recent Empty Promises report showed that 94% of schools are finding it harder to resource the support required to meet the needs of pupils with SEND than they did two years ago.
Speaking at the conference, Marijke Miles, Headteacher of Baycroft School in Hampshire, a secondary school for children with moderate to severe learning difficulties, said: “More and more now I find it is necessary to fight the system. All too often, the successes of my students happen despite the system, not because of it. And that can’t be right.
“My students have lots of complex additional needs and some severe medical conditions. But they cannot get all the support that they are entitled to. Services in my local authority have been severely depleted, putting enormous pressure on teachers’ time and expertise, as well as on school budgets.
“It does come down to resources in the end. Costs are rising faster than funding. Provision and support are being cut. You can do anything if you have the money. You cannot do anything without it. What we need is for the government to show some leadership and fund the essential work we do sufficiently. If they do not, I fear that the most vulnerable in society will pay the highest price.”
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