Changes to system could leave deaf children without vital support
New Government figures have raised fresh concerns that changes to the system of guaranteed help for SEN children is leading to a reduction in support, the National Deaf Children’s Society said.
This is despite reassurances given by Government Ministers that the recent reforms would not make it more difficult for children to obtain the support offered by legally binding plans.
From September 2014, Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans started to replace statements of special educational needs (SEN). The aim was to bring in a co-ordinated assessment process, with different professionals working together to agree a support plan up to the age of 25. But the number of children issued with either a SEN or an EHC plan fell by seven per cent last year – the first drop in numbers since 2010 - and 20 local authorities have seen reductions of 30% or more.
An NDCS survey of parents of deaf children published in 2013 showed widespread concern about the reforms, with only 6% believing that the changes would lead to better support and 72% thinking the real aim was to reduce spending.
Jo Campion, from the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “The National Deaf Children’s Society have repeatedly warned that pressure on local authority budgets could mean fewer children being offered this legally binding support.
“Sadly it appears those concerns may be justified. Deaf children can achieve as much as their hearing peers given the right support, but unless central Government properly holds local authorities to account for failing to meet deaf children’s needs, there is a risk they will be seen as an easy target when looking for savings in the face of budget pressures."
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