Hundreds of SEND children left without a school place

As reported by the BBC, new figures show that at least 1,580 SEND pupils in England don’t have a school place

Figures collated by Newsnight show that over 1,500 SEND pupils across England are lacking a school place.

Some have even waited up to two years for provision.

The figures were collected from 46 councils. This is only a quarter of councils in England, suggesting the true figure may be far higher.

The government has said that responsibility for finding SEND places lies with local authorities.

Parents can spend months, or even years, trying to get their child assessed for an education and health care plan (EHCP).

Additionally, why they are waiting, there is no statutory requirement for local authorities to keep a register of these children.

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, was not surprised by the numbers across England.

“They reaffirm my concern that this is actually really widespread and there’s a lot of children in this situation… lots of children and parents I’ve met who are spending 18 months, two years looking for that right school, or pinballing between applications to different schools,” she said.

Earlier this year, the government announced that it would pour an additional £250m into supporting high-needs pupils, and an extra £100m for new special school places.

However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates the funding gap for SEND education will reach £1.6bn by 2021.

Charlotte Stubbs, the head teacher at Uffculme Special School, said: “This year, we had 19 spaces available for September 2019 [in Year 7] – we had 86 requests for placement.

“In our primary provision, specifically at Years 1 and 2, the class sizes are about seven or eight pupils per class size.

“We’ve had 130 referrals for primary placements this year and we’re full.”

The Department for Education said EHCPs had meant more than a quarter of a million children with complex educational needs “are receiving the tailored support they need to thrive”.

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“We know that a number of children with EHC plans are waiting for a place in school, having moved to a new local authority area, or waiting for their first primary school place,” a spokesman said.

“Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that there are sufficient school places for all children in their local area.

“We encourage local authorities and providers to work collaboratively so the right range of provision is available for children.”

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