Special educational needs provision branded ‘appalling’

Guy Kingston

Guy Kingston - Credit: Contributed

‘Appalling’ special educational needs provision (SEN) is ‘ruining children’s futures’, according to parents.

North Somerset Parent Carers (NSCP) says hundreds of children in North Somerset who require an education, health and care plan (EHCP) or statement of special educational need do not have one.

An EHCP outlines extra support a child needs at school and any necessary transport requirements.

Figures from the Department for Education show just 1.5 per cent of pupils in North Somerset had an EHCP in 2017 compared to a national average of 2.8 per cent.

NSCP believes around 400 children in the district are without an EHCP and the group is calling on Ofsted, which has carried out an area inspection of services for children with SEN, to ensure these children get immediate support.

NSCP chairman Guy Kingston said: “This is an appalling state of affairs.

“The council has been ruining the futures of so many children for years and Ofsted must take this opportunity to expose the ridiculously-named Vulnerable Learners Service and finally do something to bring about meaningful, long-term change.

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“When Ofsted met with parents 99.5 per cent of the comments about North Somerset were negative, yet the lead inspector tried to sum up opinions as mixed.

“The establishment better not try and brush us off with yet another whitewash.

“Parents are so angry things will turn nasty soon if something isn’t done.”

NSCP and North Somerset Council were at loggerheads last year after the authority did not inform the committee it had stopped its funding, forcing the service to suspend its activities.

However, the council says an EHCP is not required for children to receive extra support at school.

A spokesman said: “North Somerset implements a high needs funding process to support children and young people with special educational needs within its schools.

“This means children and young people don’t have to have an EHCP in order to access this funding and be supported within their school.”

Ofsted says it will publish the findings of its SEN inspection ‘in due course’ and urged concerned parents to contact their child’s school.