The need for Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), which set out the additional support children with special education needs and disabilities should be able to access, has grown every year since 2015. However, the Government has been far too slow to respond leaving children without the support they are entitled to. In 2020, a staggering 26,683 families were forced to wait more than five months for their child to get an EHCP assessment. This is almost half of the total number of plans issued. One in five requests are refused, yet 95% of refusals are overturned by the tribunal.
Families shouldn’t need to fight for the support their children are entitled to but the current crisis is forcing more and more parents to turn to the courts to access the support they need. In 2020/21, 733 requests for EHCPs were only accepted after parents took their cases to court. This can be an expensive and lengthy process, and it shouldn’t be necessary.
Last week I visited Manor Green College in Crawley. It was a pleasure to see the excellent education Manor Green provides for their students and the care and attention which goes into keeping EHCPs up to date. Every child with additional needs should be able to access the support they need, yet the current system is leaving many students struggling without vital support.
The government has promised that the SEND Review will address these failings, but it has already been delayed three times while families are being systematically let down. The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a terrible toll on disabled children and their families, and the review should have been prioritised. It is long overdue and there is so much work to do.
The Government must end this agonising uncertainty and finally bring forward the SEND Review without delay, so that every child can flourish at school.