Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Debate

Last Wednesday, a debate took place in the Westminster Hall which related to 3 of the petitions that many of people have endorsed. They are

e-petition 607849 – Make SEND training mandatory for all teaching staff; which was completed in August 2022 and it obtained 28,782 signatures.

e-petition 591092 – Require School SENCOs to be fully qualified for the role; which was completed in January 2022 and it obtained 13,168 signatures.

e-petition 587365, Require all school staff receive training on SEN children; which was completed in December 2021 and it obtained 19,853 signatures.

It is very encouraging that some MPs took place in the debate for these petitions and the whole of the debate can be obtained from here. The MP who set it out was Geraint Davies who is the Labour MP for Swansea West. He opened the session with these words below. The only Sussex MP who took part was Sally-Ann Hart from Hastings and Rye and her opening few words were also shown below. So first is the initial few words from Geraint Davies.

I beg to move, That this House
has considered a specialist workforce for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

It is a great pleasure and privilege to serve under your chairpersonship, Mr Sharma. I am the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on speech and language difficulties, which is supported by the Royal College of Speech and Language. I first pay tribute to Lord Ramsbotham, who did so much for the group over so many years, after an illustrious career in the Army and then the Prison Service. He certainly added great value.

Something like 50% of poorer children arrive at school with a speech delay, and in an average-sized class, which is 30 across Britain, something like two or three children have a speech delay of two to four years. Obviously, we are here to talk about the wider totality of special educational needs, not just speech and language, but it is worth mentioning that early intervention on speech and language would massively improve school performance, and thereby increase future tax revenues and reduce social costs, prison costs, justice costs and so on, so we really should think about that. In the wider totality, early intervention is a very good idea.

workforce for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

And then Sally-Ann who contributed was next to speak after Geraint had finished his first speech and she began with

It is a pleasure to speak under your chairship, Mr Sharma. Many young children have faced an array of social and developmental challenges as a result of covid-19, and children with special educational needs and disabilities have been deeply affected due to the lack of services accessible for their needs during this time.

Every week, I have at least one constituent come to see me, pleading for support for their child with special educational needs, which are often undiagnosed because they cannot get an education, health and care plan or an appointment with child and adolescent mental health services. The formative years of a child’s life are essential for their development, and without changes and improved support for these specialist services, children with SEND will be exposed to bullying, mental health issues, isolation and disadvantages later in life and in the workforce.

So at the end of the debate from a number of other MPs Geraint Davies finished the session with these words.

We all know money is tight. As has been said, core funding to local authorities has been cut. It may be that many members of that coalition could do a lot more with additional funding, so that it would go further than it would by giving to it to other organisations. Clearly, that is not a perfect situation. We also heard about the importance of teaching assistants. It is a failure of budget management to reduce the amount of support for teaching assistants, who are on the frontline.

Coming back to the point about timing, voluntary organisations, teaching assistants and existing provision need to be supported now, as we support a strategy to move forward on training a specialist workforce. We are looking at designing what we hope will be a very good system as we move forward in the next couple of years. In the meantime, we need to deliver on the ground. I pay tribute to the 1,800 people who contributed to this debate. There would have been thousands more, if they had known about it. They want to tell us about their child. Everybody looking at their child’s needs is frustrated, saying that Jane, John or whoever, has needs that are not being addressed, and the deterioration is clear.

We have heard examples of cases where the lack of early intervention meant greater intervention at higher cost later. As we have discussed, downstream we end up with lower life chances, lower tax revenues and higher social costs, a lot of which is avoidable. We need to work together to speed up the system. The people in this room and beyond would be happy to lobby Government about priorities and timing, to support the Minister to bring forward more ambitious and quicker action. That would support so many people and make such a difference to their lives. Thank you all.

Question put and agreed to. Resolved, That this House has considered a specialist

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Community Safety, Education, Parliament and Democracy, Youth Issues and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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