Fix Special needs education by sufficiency and efficacy of funding to councils and schools

Fix Special needs education by sufficiency and efficacy of funding to councils and schools

6 September 2022
Signatures: 185Next Goal: 200
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Why this petition matters

Started by Finola ONeill

I am a GP who has a lot of contact with children with special educational needs whose schooling and medical care does not meet their needs or in my opinon acceptable standards.

I also have family members who are affected by this currently.

School and medical systems are letting children down and causing stress and mental health issues to those children and failing them.

Currently services to assess children for ASD, ADHD, other special needs are overloaded and children and their families and their schools struggle to get them diagnoses and when they do get the diagnosises struggling to get them the support they need. 

Because children need a diagnosis to get any support this puts long delays on getting support while diagnoses are pending and large strain on diagnostic services as well as children's mental health services while they await help.

Meanwhile schools and councils do not have enough funding to provide the support to the children and health services don't have enough funding to provide ASD/ADHD diagnostic services. The stresses of the system and failings of schools to these children cause worsening mental health to the children, impact their education and the whole thing is a loop.

Some health and education systems, eg Australia, the funding for support for children is based on need not diagnosis. Where the solutions for those children can be provided without a diagnosis, by schools being properly funded, this reduces the pressures on diagnostics centres and the problems of delays and reduced the medicalisation of the central issue of support for all children and an acceptance and respect for differences and individuality, whatever the underlying cause.

Where simple measures fail, or there are severe difficulties, the route of diagnosis, medicalisation, formal routes will still be useful. However bearing in mind that neurodiversity, ASD and ADHD, many other special educational needs, are on a spectrum and a continuity that may include many of the child and adult population, and also overlap with many mental health issues, which again are frequent and on a spectrum of severity and symptoms.

In summary, we are spending a lot of time and funding, diagnosing and compartmentalising children, to achieve funding to support them, that causes delays and possibly overmedicfalisation where a system that just supports all based on need, may work a lot better.

Then all schools could have a support service and area that supports childrens needs in the broadest of terms; educational needs, neurodiversity, mental health needs, any individual concerns and needs. With SEN and mental health practitioners and training; that all children could access.

Councils would be funded adequately to support mainstream schools for these support services, and also for the specialist provision schools and placements where these are needed.

Pressure, costs, etc on the health services which are engaged currently through failings to support these children at school initally would be reduced and pressures on daignostic services would be eased.

Where a diagnosis is wanted or needed, this is still pursued, but the children get the help when they need it initially, and don't have to wait for a diagnosis. 

The system should then be more efficient, more cost effective and much more responsive and simpler.

We have recently worked with Kent council to support one of our family who has special educational needs get a specialist provision placement. Kent council have been amazing. The councillors supported us and spoke to SEN services, our coordination and her seniors were amazing. However we are aware that due to serious underfunding of councils across the country it is very difficult for councils to support children fully with their needs.

This is why we are calling for reform of funding for SEN so it is based on need not diagnosis, to speed up and simplify support for children. Plus proper funding to councils and schools, so every school can have its own specialist SEN support service and unit at school, their own school councillor/psychologist and all children can access these, diagnosis or not.

Plus sufficient funding to councils for specialist placement provisions when needed, an end to punitive approaches to attendance and achievement to schools, parents and pupils and the start of a supportive, integrated system for children’s wellbeing and education that respects all children as individuals, perfect , loved and supported as they are.


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Signatures: 185Next Goal: 200
Support now