100 signatures reached
To: Nadhim Zahawi (Secretary of State for Education) Sajid Javid (Secretary of State for Health) and Chloe Smith (Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Stop the SEND crisis in schools
There is a SEND crisis in the U.K. - yet hardly anyone knows about it.
Thousands of children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (needs like, but not limited to Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder or Developmental Co-Ordination Disorder/Dyspraxia) are struggling in silence in our schools. They are falling behind in their education, their mental health is collapsing - yet the help they receive is completely inadequate.
Here are just a few chilling facts:
- Autism: Children are waiting unlawfully long times for assessments and diagnosis. The legal waiting time limit for an Autism assessment is 18 weeks, but the average wait time is actually around 2+ years.
- EHCP (Educational Health Care Plan) is a legally binding support plan for children with SEND. The legal time frame to create one is 20 weeks, but many Councils are failing to meet that limit (if they even agree to assess a child in the first place), leaving children to wait even longer for the support they desperately need NOW
- Many SEND children struggle with mental health difficulties because of their needs. Yet CAMHS (Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services) across the U.K. are so overloaded/ having to “prioritise the most urgent cases”, many fail to even give families a call back to find out why a child was referred to their service in the first place.
This HAS to change.
- Meaningful SEND training must be a priority for ALL school staff, including Heads, Teachers and TA’s
- CAMHS services must be adequately funded so they can provide a service fit for purpose.
- Local authorities must be sufficiently funded to provide the additional support SEND children need
Thousands of families are struggling in silence, leaving some so desperate they are spending their life savings on help and support their children need - help and support that should be freely available via school, CAMHS, their local Council and the NHS.
Why is this important?
Many schools are so ill-equipped and under-trained to deal with SEND issues, they either treat the child’s hidden disability as a behavioural problem, or blame parents for “exaggerating” (or even causing) their child’s needs. School is not an emotionally safe place for many SEND children, and absenteeism due to mental health difficulties is sky-rocketing, even amongst primary-age children. The trauma and damage these experiences cause is immeasurable, and sometimes life long: Many children fall out of the school system completely because they can no longer cope, meaning they never get the chance to fulfil their dreams or potential.
As hidden disabilities become better recognised, this problem is only going to grow.
SEND children need action, and they need it now.