The Commons Education Select Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into special educational needs and disability (SEND) education, heard from several young people today about their experiences of the system. The children were identified by their first name only. Tes reports.
“We’re not just SEND,” Ben said. “We are human beings. We are the same as the rest of you. Remember that fact. We’re not a problem, work with us.”
And Eva, another witness, told MPs that she wanted adults to realise that children with SEND also had “dreams and ambitions”.
Eva said she felt a quality education, health and care plan (EHCP) should use language in a way that meant “children aren’t defined by labels and not seen as problems to be solved”.
There has been ongoing concern about delays to EHCPs or poor-quality EHCPs – both of which then need to be challenged by parents.
The plans set out what support, such as speech therapy, a child is entitled to. An earlier session of the inquiry heard from one MP that a constituent’s child had become so stressed by the wait for support that he started self-harming.
Francesca, 16, who is deaf, told the MPs that being encouraged to use the “disability room” in school at lunchtime made it difficult for her to make friends when she started secondary school. When she later did try to make friends, she found pupils “wary” of socialising with pupils with SEND.
Ben told MPs that he felt there needed to be more sensitivity to a child’s needs when they find it hard to fit into school norms. “It might have to change a bit because it’s not going to work otherwise but if it doesn’t work [then] they don’t get shipped off, excluded, offloaded or hidden in other places,” he said.
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