Responding to tonight’s report by Newsnight, revealing that more than 1,500 pupils with special educational needs or a disability (SEND) across 46 councils do not have a school place, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:
“SEND pupils are falling through the gaps of a fragmented, underfunded school system. Brutal Conservative cuts to schools and the spiralling demand for Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) mean that too many children with the most complex needs are not getting the tailored support they are entitled to.
“Meanwhile, cash-strapped councils must ensure every child has a school place but are powerless to make it happen. They can’t sponsor new schools or control academies’ admissions policies.
“The Liberal Democrats demand better for our children’s futures. We would give schools an emergency cash injection worth thousands of pounds for every child on an EHCP and give the power to plan school places back to elected local councils. Every child deserves a good school place suited to their needs.”
A recent Freedom of Information request revealed that Derbyshire County Council successfully defended just 4.35% of cases where Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) were disputed for Special Educational Needs and Disability provision in 2018.
Lib Dem Group Leader for N-E Derbyshire, Ross Shipman said:
“It’s absolutely terrible. The Tory controlled council are failing the most vulnerable children in Derbyshire; and in the vast majority of cases the courts are finding against them.
“Despite having such a poor record in 2017, the Council continued throwing away money trying to defend the indefensible; and it’s still continuing. Already this year there are 31 cases waiting for a Tribunal Hearing. We need Cllr Alex Dale [Cabinet Member for Children’s Services] to instruct a full review into these failings and to actually start doing his job to protect vulnerable children across Derbyshire.”