Skip to main content

Special Educational Needs and Disability

Volume 672: debated on Monday 2 March 2020

9. What recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the support provided to children and young people with special educational needs and disability. (901014)

Every child should receive a world-class education, no matter what their needs. That is why we are investing £7.2 billion this coming year to support those with the most complex needs—an increase of £780 million. Local performance varies across the country, so we are reviewing the entire SEND system and working closely with stakeholders and parents.

I am glad to hear that the system is being reviewed. Cuts to council funding for special educational needs and disability services mean that children in Wandsworth are waiting too long for a diagnosis and for an education, health and care plan. Then, too many do not receive the support they need that is outlined in that plan. This common experience of parents and children was backed up by a recent Ofsted report that said that Wandsworth’s EHC plans were of poor quality and that there were significant concerns. There is a cost to cuts. Will the Secretary of State ensure that there is significant additional funding for councils in the Budget for special educational needs and disability services?

The London Borough of Wandsworth will receive £47.8 million in high-needs funding in the next year, which is an increase of 8.6%. The performance of local areas in producing education, health and care plans is variable, but over 30 areas do get more than 90% of plans done within the 20-week period which, I note, is a reduction from the 26-week period under the previous Labour Government. Performance does vary across the country. Where it is not good enough, we support and challenge local areas to improve.

Will the Minister apologise for her Government’s imposition of such irresponsibly severe cuts that the Care Quality Commission has now found that one third of all services for special needs children have significant failings? After 10 years of this kind of failure, what is her plan to sort this national crisis out?

As I have just said, there has been an increase of £780 million in additional high-needs funding next year, which is a 12% increase. Performance does vary, but we know that only because of the joint Oftsted-CQC inspections that this Government introduced. The reports do not give a pass-fail judgment, and many of them show strength. Furthermore, when they have been re-inspected following the work of the Government, six of the 17 councils have made sufficient progress in every area.

Order. The Opposition are getting upset because Government Front Benchers are taking too long. They should speed up in future.