Families of 45 Suffolk children wait for schooling decision
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Suffolk County Council has vowed that no child will be left high and dry, after admitting that the families of 45 children with special educational needs and disabilities still do not know where their child is being schooled this September.
Latest figures for the authority indicated that there were 45 children this week with special educational needs or disability (SEND) who do not have a confirmed education placement for the new term in September.
The authority said the team continued to work on suitable placements, which had to take into account factors such as their age, location and educational needs.
But parent campaigners calling for urgent improvements in the service say that not enough is being done, and have re-iterated calls for an independent legal audit of the county SEND service.
Concerns have previously been expressed that the demand on SEND services meant some children were being taught in settings that were not suitable for their needs, including pupil referral units, mainstream schools or having to be taught at home.
The Campaign for Change (Suffolk SEND) group estimated that up to 1,000 children in Suffolk may be without full time places because numbers didn’t take into account those on part-time timetables, excluded or being taught at home.
A spokeswoman from the council said: “Suffolk County Council has a legal responsibility to provide education to all children.
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“In a few circumstances where children may have complex educational needs, this education may need to be bespoke and tailored to that child’s individual needs. If we cannot find the right specialist provision for a child, we will provide an interim package of support until the right placement is found. This is done in full consultation with the families and we continue to support them throughout.
“We recognise that this arrangement is not ideal, but it is a temporary measure until a permanent placement is found.”
Particular pressure points are currently found in specialist placements for cognition schools for Reception-Year 2, as well as social, emotional and mental health needs for Year 9 and above, as well as those with a number of needs.
The council has embarked on a £45million programme to create 870 new SEND spaces at either brand new SEND schools or specialist units attached to mainstream schools to try and address the demand.