1,000 signatures reached
To: Cllr Claire Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council
OPEN LETTER: Please don't vote for cuts to special educational needs funding
Dear Cllr Coghill,
We urge you: please don’t vote to cut vital support to children with special needs and disabilities in Waltham Forest.
Why is this important?
On 19th March you and your fellow councillors will be voting on whether to make potentially devastating cuts to the special educational needs budget, which will impact children across the borough. We are calling on you to vote against it.
We believe these cuts will prevent schools from properly supporting children with special needs, such as autism, Down’s Syndrome and learning difficulties, and in doing so negatively impact the education of all children in the borough.
If these cuts are made, you risk failing in your legal duty under the Children and Families Act 2014 to provide access to education for all children – making the proposals both unethical and likely unlawful.
What's more, we believe these cuts are a false economy. Reducing support for children with special educational needs means many will struggle to cope in mainstream education, resulting them falling out of the system completely either through exclusion or school refusal. Parents will then be forced to seek alternative specialist provision, which will cost the council far more in the long run.
The proposal is to make a 10% cut to vital top-up funding for children with special educational needs in mainstream schools, as well as cutting the annual budgets of special schools by 1.5%, the maximum allowed by law. Waltham Forest Council will also introduce an unsustainable two-tier system in which new children requiring support face an, as yet, undefined new process.
Previous attempts to cut the budget were abandoned after families and schools voiced concerns about how cuts would harm children’s education. Many schools remain uneasy about the cuts, choosing either not to vote or to abstain from voting for them.
You should also take note of the high level of community support against cutting the special needs education budget. This is exemplified by the fact that £3,000 for the purposes of taking legal action against the Council was raised through crowdfunding in a matter of days. Furthermore, Waltham Forest SEND Crisis, a grassroots campaign group formed by families, carers and professionals, now has over 300 members.
A young person has special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty or disability that calls for special educational provision to be made for them. This can include children with sight or hearing problems, Down's syndrome, learning difficulties, autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, anxiety, depression, as well as children with a physical need requiring additional equipment and support. The extra support children with SEND require is vital to them being able to access an education.
You and the other Waltham Forest Councillors must vote against these cuts on 19 March, as they will hurt the children you have a legal duty to support. We implore you to follow the lead of other UK Councils and push back to central government.