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Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Volume 693: debated on Monday 26 April 2021

What steps his Department is taking to support children with special educational needs and disabilities. (914719)

What steps his Department is taking to support children with special educational needs and disabilities. (914748)

The best place for vulnerable children and those with special educational needs is at school. That is why we kept schools open throughout the pandemic. The high needs budget has grown by £1.5 billion in two years, and £42 million has been made available for specialist organisations to support children with special educational needs.

During my campaign in 2019, I became aware that parents of children with special educational needs in Blyth Valley were very concerned about the lack of educational provision for their children. I am delighted that plans are now well under way for the opening of a new special educational needs school in Blyth on the site of the old Princess Louise First School, in an area well known to a lot of my constituents. Will my right hon. Friend do all he can to ensure that this much-needed facility will be available as quickly as possible for these children, who so desperately need the additional support and resources that it will offer?

I join my hon. Friend in recognising the important role of this new free school, led by the Prosper Learning Trust. It will make a real impact on so many children in his constituency, and I look forward to working closely with him and with the new school to ensure that we deliver the very best special educational needs education in his constituency.

The all-party parliamentary group for special educational needs and disabilities heard some very moving and sometimes concerning personal experiences from young people about the impact of the pandemic on them. I know that schools and local authorities, including in Buckinghamshire, worked incredibly hard to provide the best services they could, but could my right hon. Friend reassure the House that help and funding will be made available specifically to support the mental health of young people with SEND as part of the recovery from the pandemic?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight some of the challenges that young people suffer, especially in the area of mental health. That is why, just a short while ago, we announced extra provision and extra money and resources to support children in schools and make sure they have the very best mental health, and we are supporting schools in doing that.