Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Suffolk)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:10 pm on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Sandy Martin Sandy Martin Shadow Minister (Waste and Recycling) 7:10 pm, 5th November 2019

May I, Mr Speaker, add my congratulations to those already given in respect of your elevation, both metaphorically and physically, to the speakership?

Suffolk has a greater than average number of special educational needs and disability assessment cases going to tribunal; poor communication between providers and with parents; a lack of specialist placements; an inadequate resource in the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which is supposed to provide mental health services; insufficient respite services; a growing gap between the provision described in education, health and care plans and what is actually provided; an acute shortage of autistic spectrum disorder provision; and an overall lack of staff and funding to address these issues, either in mainstream education or in specialist provision.

Since the revisit from Ofsted in January this year, and its report in February, little seems to have been done to hold Suffolk to any action plan that might deal with the failings identified. There has been no increase in monitoring since the failed revisit and no appreciable changes in senior management. Mental health services—or the lack of them—continue to cause distress to young people and their parents, and young people are harming themselves or falling into greater mental health need while they wait for support that does not come.