SMA UK call on the Government to rethink disabled children’s education and care

09 May 2022

SMA UK call on the Government to rethink disabled children’s education and care

50 charities, all members of the Disabled Children’s Partnership, have signed an open letter to the Government addressing proposals set out in the SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) Green Paper which contains recommendations to improve services from the SEND Review that was first announced in September 2019.

The letter, sent today (Monday 9th May) and written to Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi and Rt Hon Sajid Javid, highlights concerns that some of the proposals in the paper will have the opposite effect to their stated intentions and may in fact restrict families with disabled children from accessing certain services and create barriers in an already challenging system.

Charlotte Russel, a parent of a child with SMA says, “Opportunities other children can take for granted are always a battle when it comes to SEND. Unfortunately, this was the case when I prepared for Helena to start school and by the looks of this green paper it sadly looks like this will continue to be the case. As a SEND parent that must constantly fight for every bit of support, I find that thought exasperating!”

Whilst the Green Paper recognises that the current system of provision for the 1.4 million young people with special educational needs and disabilities is not fit for purpose, our letter raises concerns over the following proposals:

  • Only letting families pick a school from a pre-defined list could limit choice and prevent a young person form accessing a school that suits their needs.
  • Deciding the levels of support disabled children get from a national banding system could possibly restrict access to support. Concerns have arisen over young people being grouped together generically by condition rather than individual need.
  • By making mediations mandatory before allowing families to go to Tribunal there are concerns that this will add an extra step in an already arduous process for families already facing huge challenges.

Furthermore, the letter highlights how the biggest issue for many families is not answered – how are schools, the health service and other organisations going to be held to account if they don’t meet their legal duties and urges the government to look again at measures that could be put in place to increase accountability.

You can read our open letter here.

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