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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 May 2019

Day of action against cuts to special needs education

photo USDA/CC, photo USDA/CC

photo USDA/CC, photo USDA/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Mick Whale, Hull National Education Union

It is a measure of a society's progress as to how it treats its most vulnerable members. Applying that measure to special educational needs funding - we are heading back to the Stone Age.

It is a national scandal that just about every local authority in England faces a 'high-needs block' deficit but growing demand for specialist provision. High-needs block is the part of the local authority's education budget which funds special education.

In Hull, for example, the high-needs block is over 2 million in deficit. At the same time, the demand for specialist support has skyrocketed.

There were 100 applications for just 18 places at Northcott Special School in Hull.

The number of looked-after children has risen to more than 750. The number of children on the autistic spectrum has risen to more than 800.

Funding eroded

School funding is being eroded. Mainstream schools are at breaking point trying to support children who really need more specialist support.

Many schools have made valuable teaching assistants redundant and children's services have been slashed as a result of government cuts.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health have also faced cutbacks. This means that some of the services that could help schools in supporting children with special needs have been removed.

The impact of austerity on family life and the emotional wellbeing of many young people is immense. 40% of Hull households bring home incomes below the official poverty line.

The Tories badge themselves as the party of the family. In reality, they have acted like a wrecking ball to family life, with many parents having to work two or three jobs to put food on the table.

Parents blamed

Often, this means that parents have to work in the evening, so some children don't get adult company after school. Yet, the Tories blame parents for poor pupil behaviour.

Parents of children with special educational needs have finally said "enough is enough". They are demonstrating in London, Leeds, Hull and other places for more funding.

It is a shame that the demonstrations are on a weekday, as many trade unionists who want to support this cause are in work. The trade unions, particularly those in education, must use their industrial strength to fight for full funding for all aspects of education - based on need not some fancy funding formula.

Labour councils should refuse to make these cuts. These demonstrations have to be the start of a campaign for a fully funded education system accessible for all children regardless of their ability or need.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 22 May 2019:


International socialist news and analysis

What lies behind the US-China trade war?

Sri Lanka - Ten years after the brutal end of the war

Reject Alabama abortion ban


News

Labour's nationalisation plan: What policies are needed to avert climate catastrophe?

British Steel threatened closure


What we think

European elections expose deepening political crisis: Workers need a party of our own


Workplace news

Birmingham home carers victory

Probation workers celebrate case management renationalisation

Fantastic RMT London Underground victory

Woolwich ferry workers begin ten days of strike action

Morrisons workers reject pay offer

Unite young members' conference

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

4 June - Walk out against Trump! Climate criminal not welcome

Domestic abuse accommodation: Tories shift - but safety is more than a bed

Haringey: Socialists' stance fully vindicated

Anger and frustration at the establishment

Lifting the mood

Socialist sales boost

Pouring cold water on the Riverside estate

Worcester Tories stonewall action on climate change

Day of action against cuts to special needs education


Opinion

Opinion: socialists must link climate struggle to power of organised workers

The Socialist Inbox


 

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