Parents invited to discuss funding for SEND
The newly appointed Cabinet Member with responsibility for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is inviting parents, carers, teachers and local groups to discuss funding for special educational needs.
Cllr Chris Kennedy will host an event aimed at finding out about residents’ experiences of SEND provision and their ideas for what services might look like in the future, in the face of ongoing Government funding freezes for these vital services.
The event will be held at a central Hackney location on 26 June, from 6.30-8pm. Those taking part will be asked to discuss key issues in small groups in a ‘roundtable’ setting. Their feedback will help to shape Council policies around SEND and will also inform the work of a new SEND working group
The working group will be led by an independent Chair, with representatives from parents’ groups, campaign groups, councillors, teachers and other professionals. Their first meeting is expected to be in July. It is hoped that this group will develop recommendations about the way services are provided and funded in mainstream schools, to ensure the Council can continue to adequately fund high quality services for young people. The recommendations will be consulted on towards the end of the year.
During my time as Chair of the Children and Young People's Scrutiny Commission I became increasingly concerned about the national funding crisis in special educational needs and also about the impact this is having on parents, carers and school staff who are understandably worried about the effect of the Government’s under-funding of these crucial services.
The Government has effectively frozen funding for Education Health and Care Plans - which support our most vulnerable children - since 2011, despite an increase of 35% in the number of young people we support. In Hackney we have chosen to fill that gap through making cuts to other services, but we cannot continue to do that. We’re plugging the gap for high needs - or ‘top-up’ - support by over £5m a year, yet face ongoing reductions to our Government grant across the council of £35m over the next two years.
As Cabinet Member for Families I will continue to lobby the Government to make sure our voice is heard, but it is only right that we explore options to make sure that we can continue to support our young people.I want to work with those who best understand the situation to really understand their concerns, priorities and any ideas they might have to ensure we can give all of our children and young people the best possible start in life.