A Wirral MP is urging parents of children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) to put their ideas forward on a government consultation into the SEND and Alternative Provision system.
Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood met with researchers from Liverpool universities to hear findings from their research investigating the impact of COVID 19 on children with SEND.
The aim of the research was to examine the perceptions and experiences of children affected by SEND, to reduce inequalities and mitigate the long-term impacts of COVID-19.
Amongst their findings was evidence indicating that the education received by children with SEND had been adversely affected during the pandemic. Although children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) should have been able to attend school, the majority did not, and many were not offered a place in school.
Online learning was inaccessible to many children with SEND. In some cases, health and social care provision completely stopped, or moved online, with a negative impact on children’s physical health.
Many children with SEND struggled with deteriorating emotional well-being and mental health, for which there was little or no support.
Teachers and staff reported that they felt burnt out, lacked adequate training to support SEND children and that it was difficult to recruit and retain SEND staff.
The study was led by Dr Emma Ashworth of Liverpool John Moores, with the support of fellow academics Professor Lucy Bray and Dr Joanna Kirkby (Edge Hill University), and Professor Amel Alghrani (University of Liverpool).
Dr Ashworth said, “Pre-pandemic, there were already stark inequalities and limitations in the provision of services for SEND children.
“Our findings suggest this problem was further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns; with education, mental health, and social care services for children with SEND downgraded or, in some cases, withdrawn altogether.
“It is vital that the experiences of children with SEND, and their families are taken into account in the SEND consultation, to ensure their needs are met and they are given every opportunity to thrive.”
Parents of SEND children are urged to submit their opinions on the future of the SEND and Alternative Provision system before the consultation closure date – 22nd July 2022.
Margaret Greenwood MP, herself a former English teacher, said, “It is a matter of extreme concern that the majority of children with special educational needs and disabilities surveyed were not offered a school place and did not attend school during the pandemic and associated lockdowns.
“Children with an EHC plan should have been able to attend school.
“This failure of provision will have set these children back and it is particularly concerning that many struggled with deteriorating emotional well-being and mental health.
“These children and their families have been let down.
“The government is carrying out a consultation into SEND and the alternative provision system.
“It is very important that the government gets this right and comes forward with high quality provision for children with SEND.
“I would urge parents and teachers of children with SEND to get involved and make sure that their voices are heard.”
Details about the consultation on the SEND and Alternative Provision system, including the online survey, can be found on the government’s website here: https://consult.education.gov.uk/send-review-division/send-review-2022/
Information about the research study can be found at Ask Listen Act Study Summary (ljmu.ac.uk)
For further information, contact the office of Margaret Greenwood MP on 0151 792 3416
Image: Taylor Wilcox