On the 16th of May, 2023 an article entitled ‘Parents call for apology over councillors’ SEND comments.’ It was written by Christian Fuller and it illustrates how our government gives little to no thought to families with children who have special educational needs.
Educational Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) which used to be called Statements are regonised as being very hard to apply for. We’re fed a continued message that State services are underfunded and overrun and that there is very little money to go around. What is not discussed so often that it is every child’s right to an education and by law if a child is unable to access the curriculum due to special needs the school has a responsibility to supply it. In State schools additional help is more easily come by and actioned quickly but in Independent schools help is not so easily accessed despite there being a huge amount of resource available.
In addition, anyone knows who has started the process applying for an EHCP knows that it is no picnic. The journey is arduous, difficult to navigate, there are twists and turns that cannot be anticipated and often the process takes two years or more to receive. To date, I don’t know any family that hasn’t gone through a lot of heartache, sifted through heavy loads of paperwork, been misdirected, led in the wrong direction, spoken to numerous different professionals who may or may not have said the same thing and found any of the process easy or straightforward. Parents are battle weary by the time the process ends, exhausted by the bureaucracy and the endless to’ing and fro’ing that many have said that if they had known the process took as long as it did they may not have started it in the first place.
I think this point is key; extracting money from your local authority is never going to be easy but the fact that it actively tries to prevent you and puts so many obstacles and hurdles in your way that it’s amazing in some ways that EHCPs are still given. Testament to how hard parents work for their offspring.
In the article Conservative ministers were heard saying that having an EHCP was the ‘in thing’ and suggesting parents ‘only apply for the provision for the extra benefits.’ If the benefit is getting an education that you are eligible for via law then it’s a pretty insulting statement to suggest that a parent of a child with special needs would go to such extreme lengths just to keep up with a fashionable trend.
We’re talking about education as every child’s right, children with SEND are no different except that they might need a more tailored approach. One teacher for 30/35 children is unable to cater for one SEND child, let alone the rest of their class. None of these conservative ministers have been up against the coal face in a class of 30 and seen firsthand how hard teachers work or how they balance differentiating for their existing cohort, nor seemingly do any of the ministers seem to grasp what it is like to teach a child without an EHCP who has behavioural problems, ADHD and a mild form of autism that presents as high anxiety and dissaciation and hugely disrupts the rest of the class. The child is bright, engaging and loves school but finds it hard to regulate in the classroom where there are too many triggers; strip lighting overhead, noise from all angles, focussing on the teacher and desperately trying not to fidget. Without an EHCP it is hard to get more support for the class. With continued cuts to funding and teacher assistants the first to leave, it is the responsibility of the teacher to try and manage. It’s an impossible task, no-one wins and everyone loses out.
Those hard won EHCP’s are not given at a drop of a hat and it is insane to think otherwise, our government is ignorant and naive to think so. However, It isn’t that much of a surprise really, when you think they’ve overhauled the EHCP process with their updated Green Paper. Some of the language in the long anticipated SEND Review, 2022 is so inflammatory and patronsing one has to wonder if they drew on real case studies and interviewed anyone who has links with the special needs world.
Help though is at hand. For children needing individualised support. For parents needing the consistency of the same professional. For discussions around applying for an EHCP, contributing to an existing one or talking about all things SEND. You’ve come to the right place….
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