Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Education – in the House of Commons at on 12 June 2023.

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Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth

What steps she is taking to help improve support for children with special educational needs and disabilities and their families.

Photo of Jack Brereton Jack Brereton Conservative, Stoke-on-Trent South

What steps she is taking to improve provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Conservative, Thornbury and Yate

What steps she is taking to improve provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

I want every child and young person, regardless of their special educational need or disability, to receive the right support to enjoy their childhood and succeed in life. The SEND and AP improvement plan, published in March 2023, sets out the next steps that we are taking to deliver a more positive experience for children, young people and families.

Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth

The Children’s Commissioner has expressed concerns about the gaps in the Government’s plan to improve the system for children with special educational needs and disabilities, identifying:

“A vicious cycle of late intervention, low confidence and inefficient resource allocation” that needs addressing. In particular, she points to the issues for looked-after children with SEND. Given that the plan is to be implemented by 2025, what are the Government doing now to achieve those things?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

We have not waited to take action on this issue. We have increased, for example, high needs block funding by 50% over the last four years to 2023-24. We have set out £2.6 billion to increase the number of specialist schools. We have also hired educational psychologists. We have done a lot of work to date, but the reforms are ambitious and wide-ranging and they will, I hope, help with the issues mentioned.

Photo of Jack Brereton Jack Brereton Conservative, Stoke-on-Trent South

The need for more specialist school places is raised frequently by parents in my constituency, and children are being bounced between mainstream providers that are simply not fit to cater for many advanced needs. Recently, I visited Hillcrest Glebedale School in my constituency, which is keen to expand the number of places. Will the Minister do more to ensure that we support such schools and grow the number of SEND places in Stoke-on-Trent?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

I thank all the special schools for the amazing work they do to support children and young people. We have announced more than £1.4 billion of high needs provisional capital allocations to support local authorities to deliver new places for academic years 2023-24 and 2024-25. Local authorities can use that funding to work with any school or institution in their area.

Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Conservative, Thornbury and Yate

Work has begun on the new Two Bridges Academy in South Gloucestershire, a new school that will support pupils who have severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism from the age of two right through to sixth form. Will the Minister join me in thanking the educational trust, the council and all the local groups who are helping to deliver this exciting and innovative project and will she use her office to make sure that it is open by the planned date of September 2024 to help us cope with the growing demand for special educational needs services in South Gloucestershire?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

I am delighted to join my hon. Friend in thanking all those involved in the project. The Two Bridges site remains on track to open as planned and work is progressing well. We are committed to working with the trust to ensure that that remains the case.