We are committed to helping all pupils and students, including those with disabilities, to recovery from any lost learning or development. We have already allocated £1.7 billion to support education recovery and have appointed Sir Kevan Collins, who has a wealth of experience on SEND, to lead our work to effectively target resources and support towards those with the greatest need.
The Disabled Children’s Partnership says that the health of over half of disabled children has deteriorated due to delays and reductions in essential health and therapy appointments. The Government have advised that such appointments should be prioritised, but many families are not being reached. Will the Minister develop a cross-departmental therapies and health catch-up plan for disabled children and families as part of the wider covid-19 plan?
We have been very clear that schools and colleges remain open for therapists to attend, but some children will have missed some therapies during the pandemic. Schools can use their catch-up and recovery funding to purchase additional therapies, as I mentioned in my answer to an earlier question. Many schools, especially special schools, have done so already. I advise the hon. Member to ensure that he is in touch with local schools in Bedfordshire. In his own borough, we have increased the high-needs funding budget by 8% for this financial year, on top of an 8% increase last year. The funding should be there; please do get the therapists back into the schools and use that catch-up and recovery funding well.