I was pleased to be at the Bury-Cambridge game last year. What a sad indictment it is that Bury has now left the Football League. I forgot to tell my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich South that I am visiting his beautiful city in just a couple of weeks to see Manchester City play and to spend some time. I can see the Ipswich Members getting a bit edgy, but we will not go there.
After sitting at the Cabinet table agreeing to years of real-terms pay cuts for teachers, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Education have finally admitted that austerity has failed our schools. The announcements prove the veracity of what we have heard today. Statistics from the Department for Education show that the number of children and young people with special educational needs or education, health and care plans in England rose by 34,200, an increase of 11% from 2018. Peter Aldous spoke articulately about SEN provision and how it is currently failing young people in his patch and across the country, yet research by the National Education Union has found that special needs provision in England is down by £1.2 billion as a result of shortfalls in funding increases from the Government since 2015.
The Government’s own data shows that, as of January 2018, 4,050 children and young people with an education, health and care plan, or statement, were “awaiting provision”. In other words, they were waiting for a place in education. Pupils with special educational needs and disabilities are struggling to get the help that they need, yet last week, in the school spending announcements, the Secretary of State did not even offer to cover half the funding shortfall, and not for another year. But as the hon. Member for North West Norfolk articulately pointed out, mental health is severely impacted when young people cannot get the provision that they need.