A Battle For Special Education

Health & Education

Finding the right school for your child can be challenging. But as a parent of a child with special educational needs, this challenge becomes even harder. Parents have found themselves fighting the broken system trying to find the right place for their children to go to school.

The support from schools is almost non-existent

An article by the Independent, explains that in some cases; parents have been forced to quit their jobs or remortgage their houses, this is due to the lack of educational and pastoral support that they are receiving.

Parents have told MPs that schools discourage parents from sending, what they consider to be “challenging”, students to them, leading to pupils waiting years to be placed in an appropriate educational setting.

Reforms aren’t working, families are being “thrown into crisis” and are having to argue their way through a “system full of conflict and despair”.

For families without the foundation of knowledge, manoeuvring their way through the system has led them to become quickly defeated. And those who have the “combination of special knowledge and social capital” are left “exhausted”.

Families have stated that they feel: stressed, anxious, depressed and suicidal, after the efforts that they have had to put in to create appropriate provisions for their children.

What is the government doing about this?

The government has pledged £700m of additional support for special educational needs. However, MP’s have warned that this funding won’t make a difference unless a radical systemic change is put into place.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon, chair of the committee, said:

“Many children with special educational needs and disabilities are being let down day after day. Many parents face a titanic struggle just to try and ensure their child gets access to the right support.

“Families are often forced to wade through a treacle of bureaucracy, in a system which breeds conflict and despair as parents try to navigate a postcode lottery of provision.

“Of course, extra funding for SEND announced in the spending round is welcome but the truth is that more cash will fail to make a difference to children with special education needs unless there is a radical change of approach throughout the system.

“The Department for Education (DfE) cannot continue with a piecemeal and reactive approach to supporting children with SEND.

“Rather than making do with sticking plasters, what is needed is a transformation, a more strategic oversight and fundamental change to ensure a generation of children is no longer let down.”

Families and MPs are now calling for a more rigorous overhaul of the special education system.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the school leaders’ union has said: “We have been warning for a long time that the picture facing schools supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities is unsustainable.

“Not only are budgets at breaking point, there have been severe cuts to local authority health and social care provision. Schools and councils have been left struggling to meet the needs of our most vulnerable pupils.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “No child should be held back from reaching their potential, including those with special educational needs.

“That’s why we recently announced a £780m increase to local authorities’ high needs funding, boosting the budget by 12 per cent and bringing the total spent on supporting those with the most complex needs to over £7bn for 2020-21.

“This report recognises the improvements made to the system over five years ago were the right ones, and put families and children at the heart of the process.

“But through our review of these reforms, we are focused on making sure they work for every child, in every part of the country.”


For children with special educational needs, socialisation and foundational skills are crucial to their development. If these children don’t have a place to go or an outlet, the sole responsibility is left to the parents, who, in most cases, have no educational training. The supporting foundations need to be updated, as early development is an integral part of the education for special needs children. Pastoral care is at the heart of special education,  so we must ensure that this kept is at the forefront of change.

Some families have been forced to give up their jobs, sell their belongings and remortgage their homes amid a “failing” system.

By Ella Bertrand on 29/07/2022