Lack of SEND school places ‘not an isolated case’ as disabled children still locked out of education in England

3 mins read

Wednesday 18 January 2023

Tags: school absence, SEND System of support, home education, exclusion, suspension

Too many children in England are still waiting for a suitable school place, despite it being two weeks into the second term of the school year.

Some children are in school while on a waiting list for something more suitable. Others are not in school as they wait for a school place that can meet their needs.

Last week, Ofsted inspectors reported that there are still a significant number of children with SEND in Leicestershire waiting for a school place that meets their needs – despite inspectors initially flagging “significant areas of weaknesses” in the county council’s SEND services three years ago.

Parent carers like Robert Martin, who co-chairs the Leicestershire Parent Carer Forum SEND Hub, were forced to give up their careers to look after their children at home because no suitable education options were available locally.

Our Head of Policy and Campaigns, Una Summerson, was interviewed on the radio about the fact that, sadly, this is not an isolated case.

“We hear from many parents who are unable to secure a school place or have to go through a lengthy battle, perhaps going through tribunal to get the right school place for their child,” Una said. “This puts unnecessary extra pressure on families that are already dealing with all sorts of additional pressures in their lives.”

You can listen to the interview online on BBC Sounds. The segment starts at 3:10:20, and Una’s interview is at 3:15:27.

More funding needed to release pressure on specialist school places

Una said: “Without support in place some children with SEND start school refusing, some are put on part-time timetables, are excluded, or develop emotional and mental difficulties.

“As a result, more families are looking to specialist school places, leading to increased pressure. There must be more money put into the SEND system by government to address these issues. We understand that local authorities have been facing unprecedented financial challenges for many years now. But we must do better for disabled children. We would like to see greater accountability for councils who do not meet their legal duties to provide an education for all children.”

Get help with school exclusion at our Q&A

Contact’s webpage on school attendance, absence and medical needs is among the most read of our website and offers useful advice to parents.

Sadly, one of the symptoms of not getting appropriate support is a child might be at risk of suspension or exclusion from school.

That’s why tomorrow we are running a special Facebook Q&A session for families in England with our SEN team at 10am. Join our Facebook group to take part.