Parents face 'battle' to get support for children with special needs

Parents of children with special needs face a ‘battle’ to get the support they need in South Tyneside, an investigation has found.

Friday, 21st June 2019, 10:56 am
Picture by PA

There is also not enough consistency in whether children are diagnosed early, with a ‘general consensus’ there should be more help on offer for families, it reveals.

The findings are included in a new report on provision for youngsters with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the borough, following an investigation by members of South Tyneside Council.

According to the paper, which will be presented to the council’s Education and Skills Panel next week, “some parents reported their child’s needs had been identified early and had subsequently received excellent support.

“However, for some the system was described as ‘a battle’ to get through. Early identification was variable.

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“If there was no diagnosis, then the parents said it was often difficult to get any support. There was a general consensus that more support was needed for parents.”

The report was produced by a special commission set up by South Tyneside Council in October 2018 following a shake-up of SEND guideline by the government.

The review focused on youngsters aged 0 – 25, who make up 29% of the population of South Tyneside.

Of the 22,149 children in nursery, primary school or secondary school in the borough, almost 20% have ‘some form of’ SEND diagnosis, higher than both the national average of 14.9% and the regional average of 15.8%.

There are four special schools in South Tyneside, all of which are currently judged to be ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by schools watchdog Ofsted, as well as a further eight specialist units attached to mainstream schools.

The report added: “Whilst most SEND children’s needs can be met in local schools, we commission services from independent out -of-borough schools such as Percy Hedley School [in Newcastle] because these are more appropriate for some of our children with specific needs.

“Members felt that we need to develop in Borough services which negate the need to send children to out of Borough schools.”

Members of the commission made eight recommendations, including the introduction of a ‘quality mark’ for SEND services and a further review of services for youngsters moving from school to further education or employment.