Education Questions

I tabled a question for Education Questions and I was called for question 15 on the Order Paper. The question was: “What steps she is taking to improve support for children with special educational needs in Walsall South constituency.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, David Johnston MP, answered questions together with a general answer: “In March, we published our improvement plan to transform support for children with special educational needs, and last month we launched nine regional change programme partnerships to drive reform. By 2024-25, we will have increased high-needs funding by 60% since 2019-20, and we have approved the opening of 78 special free schools.”

My follow-up question to the Minister: “There is a crisis in funding for SEND in Walsall South. In Old Church Primary, 78 pupils have special needs, which is 19% of the school total. How can the Minister target the funding to the schools that really need it? Does he agree that when Ofsted inspects, it should take into account children with special needs in schools such as Old Church so that these are mitigating factors?”

David Johnston answered “The right hon. Lady makes an important point about the role of Ofsted and ensuring that it assesses that provision. It is worth saying that there will have been a 36% per-head increase in Walsall between 2021-22 and 2024-25, but I would be happy to meet her to discuss the issue further.”

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reports that 13% of pupils in the UK have special educational needs or disabilities. Statistics show children in the lowest 3 bands on the deprivation index had the lowest SAT results ever last year, and NASEN (the National Association for Special Educational Needs) said the Government’s ‘SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan’ came too late for many children and young people with SEND.  I will raise this issue with the Minister.