Paula Sherriff, the MP for Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton, has spoken out this week in Parliament for her constituents facing delays in gaining the support they need for children with special educational needs.
In September 2014 reforms aiming to give children and young people with special educational needs and their parents a greater say in the support they receive came into effect in England.
Yet two reports in the past month provide a damning indictment of how these reforms are going. Ofsted reports “significant areas of concern” in one third of local areas, whilst the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman says families are “suffering long delays in getting the right support and children ultimately failing to reach their potential”.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Miss Sherriff called on the government to explain what is being done about this. In response for the government, Education Minister Robert Goodwill said that parents welcome the changes.
Paula Sherriff MP added:
‘Three years ago, the government told us that these reforms would result in a more joined up system that focuses on children achieving their best but the evidence suggests that the reforms are faltering.
‘Several local families have told me of the difficulties they’re facing – getting an assessment in the first place requires monumental efforts from parents and teachers alike, and on top of that there are issues with the quality of these assessments.
‘Sadly, the minister has failed to acknowledge the problems experienced by local people. Instead of brushing off the concerns highlighted by Ofsted and the Local Government Ombudsman, as well as parents in our area, I’d hoped to learn of steps being taken to address these issues.
‘It’s clear that this government needs to take the strategy for special educational needs and disabilities more seriously. I’ll continue to press for more to be done to ensure children and their parents are properly supported.’