'Central Beds' lack of resources means 22 children with SEND may be sent to mainstream schools'

Some 22 children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) in Central Bedfordshire face a return to mainstream schooling from September because of a lack of specialist places, according to a local action group.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 11:55 am
Updated Monday, 2nd August 2021, 11:56 am
SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability)

A petition, which currently has around 350 signatures, is due to be delivered to Central Bedfordshire Council s executive tomorrow (Tuesday) to highlight the issue.

Central Bedfordshire SEND Action Group says it has a list of 22 children in this situation, but claims there are more than that affected.

The group warns: "These children have to return in September to mainstream settings, which cannot meet their needs.

"The SEND panel has agreed to specialist placements for all of these children, but there are none available.

"Some don't even have this (option) and will have to stay at home.

"We know there are more than 22 children in this situation and this needs to be explored at an extraordinary meeting of CBC's children's services overview and scrutiny committee."

The SEND parents are calling on the local authority to hold an urgent meeting to address the many children who have been granted specialist school places, but who've been told that there are none available.

The action group's petition explains: "These children will have to return to their mainstream settings, which are unable to meet their special educational needs.

"This will result in long-term part-time timetables, loss of learning and some therapies, social isolation, and a deterioration of child, sibling and parent mental health.

"Other potential consequences are parental loss of income, jobs or careers, a

negative impact on mainstream children and teachers, and children withdrawing from school altogether until a space is available."

The group wants "director of children's services Sue Harrison and CBC's deputy leader and executive members for families, education and children councillor Sue Clark to be open and honest about how many children are in this situation".

It claims: "There are likely to be many more than the numbers identified by the Central Bedfordshire SEND Action Group.

"The extraordinary meeting needs to take place as a matter of extreme urgency over the summer.

"If these were mainstream children, the council would be going to any lengths to accommodate them.

"Children with SEND have a right to a suitable education and the local authority is catastrophically failing in its legal duty to provide this to many children."

A CBC spokeswoman said: "We met 97 per cent of the demand in Central Bedfordshire for more than 300 transfer requests for specialist places in all education health care plans (EHCPs), which were amended and finalised by the statutory deadline of February 15th.

"The council continually receives new or amended ECHP requests for specialist places throughout the year.

"Since February, we've received 107 new EHCP requests for transfer to specialist places with parents and professionals in agreement that a specialist placement is required.

"We're working with the parents of 11 children to identify appropriate education provision.

"Where they're being educated at home, bespoke support for families will be provided.

"If a pupil is in a mainstream setting, he or she will remain within the current school.

"We're working with families and schools to ensure that the right level of support is being offered with extra bespoke provision, if this has been identified as a need, until a specialist place is secured.

"We're revising our forward plans to meet the growing demand for specialist provision places.

"This includes a significant £6.5m capital investment to create more than 100 SEND specialist places over the next three years, with an additional 59 places available from September."