School system for disabled kids is broken & parents don’t trust us – I’ll fix it with 33 new schools, says Education sec

THOUSANDS of extra SEND places will be available to disabled children, thanks to The Sun’s Give It Back campaign. 

There will be 33 special free schools built in an unspecified timeline, according to the Department for Education’s Right Support, Right Time, Right Place report today. 

Education secretary Gillian Keegan said parents were 'frustrated' with system


Education secretary Gillian Keegan said parents were ‘frustrated’ with systemCredit: Alamy
Sam Carlisle says the plan offers less for older children like daughter Elvi


Sam Carlisle says the plan offers less for older children like daughter ElviCredit: Twitter – Sam Carlisle

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan and Health Secretary Steve Barclay admitted families are “frustrated” by the current system in a a joint statement.

It read: “We know that some families feel frustrated by the system and feel they need to battle to access specialist education, health or care services including from mental health services.

“We know that providers and services are facing delivery pressures.

“It is time to deliver a more dignified experience for children and young people with SEND and to restore families’ confidence in the system.”

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Responding to last year’s SEND review, the plan recognised there was a loss of trust and the system needs to be “less adversarial” for disabled children’s parents or carers. 

Sam Carlisle is mum to Elvi, 21, who has complex needs, says the Government admitting the system is broken is one step forward. 

Sam, from Wimbledon, south London, said: “I am grateful they’ve acknowledged the fight. 

“I can’t say how life changing having a child with special educational needs is.

“It’s not your child’s disability – it’s the lack of support that you get. 

“Doors are slammed in your face – these are legal requirements from local authorities, from health authorities, from Government and you just have to fight for everything. 

As Elvi is under 25 she still falls into the Government’s SEND provision and needs speech and language therapy to help her fulfil her potential. 

Sam believes the DfE’s plan focuses on younger children – and less on older children.

Sam added: “What they’ve suggested will help younger people, young children coming in which is great.

For older children – teenagers and young people the age of Elvi – it feels like too little too late.” 

Special free schools and alternative provisions will be held to national standards but still delivered locally.

The Department for Education plans to consult parents and test regional partners on the national standard this year – and the full guidelines will be published by 2025. 

The Government has also pledged to fund 5,000 early years practitioners to gain a SENCo qualification and 400 educational psychologists. 

The plan comes after The Sun highlighted how three quarters of parents of disabled kids have had to turn down work while they plug service gaps. 

Last year, former Children’s minister Will Quince admitted that disabled children have been let down

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The Sun’s Give It back campaign with the Disabled Children’s Partnership has been asking the Government to reinstate funding since 2019. 

In 2021, the funding gap in social care and support rose to £573million from £434million. 

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