Don’t cut back on special needs funding, teachers warn Ministers

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TEACHING unions have warned the Government that the biggest shake up of special needs education for 30 years must not be used as a way of taking away funding from schools and families who need it.

Under plans, announced yesterday parents are to be given rights to buy help and control budgets for children with special needs.

Reforms will also see the creation of a new single category of special educational needs (SEN) replacing the current system which has been deemed too complicated.

The move is likely to cut the numbers of youngsters considered to have SEN, and comes after Ofsted warned that many children were being wrongly identified as having SEN because of poor teaching. The plans will also see education, health and social services being required by law to work together.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has welcomed Government proposals to link together all agencies of child support but said it feared that attempts by the Government to tighten up on how special needs are diagnosed could be seen as a bid to slash the numbers of children eligible for financial support.

General Secretary Russell Hobby, said: “Reducing the number of children with statements will reduce the number of children receiving such support. Parents should be worried about this and the Government should think twice before reducing schools’ ability to differentiate their provision. Once again, we see evidence of lack of trust.”

The proposals were first laid out last year, amid concerns that the system for SEN children is too complex, and often leaves parents fighting for help.

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather said: “The current system is outdated and not fit for purpose. Thousands of families have had to battle for months, even years, with different agencies to get the specialist care their children need.

“It is unacceptable they are forced to go from pillar to post, facing agonising delays and bureaucracy to get support, therapy and equipment. These reforms will put parents in charge. We trust parents to do the right thing.”