Daisy Cooper, the MP for St Albans, has called on the Government to reduce the time it takes to conduct special educational needs and disability (SEND) assessments.
Speaking in a parliamentary debate secured by Liberal Democrat MPs on special educational needs and disability funding, Daisy said that the statutory time limit of 20 weeks was far too long for families to wait.
She also highlighted the plight of children in schools run by Hertfordshire County Council, where as many as one in seven pupils are being kept waiting longer than the statutory limit for an assessment.
“It is completely unacceptable that families have to wait for far too long,” Daisy said during the debate. “The statutory timescale is 20 weeks. That’s four and a half months to wait to get the assessment.”
Following the debate, Daisy Cooper commented:
“Special educational needs and disability assessments are the number one issue raised in my constituency surgeries. I can see the enormous strain that families face when a school is unable to cater for their child’s needs or when they have to wait weeks for an assessment.
“Around the country 1.3 million children have special educational needs and under Herts County Council that number has reached an all-time high. It’s a disgrace that one in seven of those families in Hertfordshire will fail to get an assessment even within the statutory 20 weeks.
“The high-needs spending deficit in local authorities is forecast to reach between £1.2 and £1.6 billion nationally by 2021, with many councils relying on reserves to make up the shortfall.
“The Government’s announcement that it will fund less than half the SEND deficit doesn’t begin to scratch the surface – it is a single-year payment and not targeted where it’s needed most.
“If all our children are to receive the life chances they deserve, we need the Government to invest properly to ensure they get adequate support and intervention at the right time.”