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National Education Union
Day of action against cuts to special needs education
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.
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.
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.
- Join the Hull protest - Thursday 30 May, 1pm, Queen Victoria Square
Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777
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