Special Educational Needs — [Geraint Davies in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:33 am on 20th March 2019.

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Photo of Mike Kane Mike Kane Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools) 10:33 am, 20th March 2019

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend. Our hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle referred to a finite budget. There are limits to resources, but what are we doing? We are creating a lost generation. In 20 or 30 years’ time, we will say that this is the generation that went through the school system on this Government’s watch. It will be the lost generation: 10,000 children a year are off-rolled, and kids with special educational needs are not getting the assistance they need.

Local authorities have overspent their budgets over the past four years and, as has been highlighted, there is a catastrophic shortfall of more than half a billion pounds this year. The mantra from Ministers that more money than ever before—record investment—is going into education not only rings hollow, but shows a total disconnect between reality and rhetoric. As a further shocking indictment of the Government’s complete failure to provide adequate SEND support in schools, a UN report in 2016 concluded that the UK was guilty of

“grave or systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities”.

I came into politics because I was inspired by my MP, Alfred Morris, who introduced the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 as a private Member’s Bill. That was the first legislation recognising the human rights of disabled people in any legislature on the planet, and Alf Morris became the world’s first Minister for the Disabled. He would be spinning in his grave if he could see what state we have come to in this country and how we are now treating pupils with SEN and disabilities.

The Government must get a grip and fully fund and implement suitable SEND support in schools. Labour would do things differently. We have already said that we would give—[Interruption.] I am hearing muttering from the Government Benches, but Alex Chalk needs to hear this message, because things do not have to be like this. We would fund local government services adequately. We pointed that out in our manifesto. We would also replace what has been taken in cuts to our schools. [Interruption.]