Note: What are schools to do with the continuing explosion of children who need special ed services? Bey9nd school, how are families to manager short and long term. Parents depend on their children in their golden years. What happens when the children still depend on the parents?
By Anne Dachel
I cannot imagine how long this can go on in the UK and Ireland. There are always increases in the number of special education students, always another new special school announced, always more money being spent. The solution is always more spending and more services, yet no one sees where this is going.
How long can a country keep this up? What happens when massive numbers of disabled students age out of school with nowhere to go?
Here’s what’s out there recently. This is the news no one is worried about.
England: The latest figures from the Department for Education are out.
As of January 2022, there were 473,255 children with plans in place, compared with 430,697 the previous year, marking a 9.9 per cent increase.
The number of children subject to EHCPs and statements, which predated the plans, has increased each year since 2010 and the latest figures indicate further dramatic rises are likely, as demand among parents for assessments is increasing.
The figures show that requests for an assessment for a plan have rocketed by almost a quarter from 75,951 in 2020 to 93,302 in 2021. This is the highest figure since the data was first collected in 2016.
This was really bad news for children with severe disabilities.
“The latest release of pupils with high level special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) shows that the government do not have a plan to support children and young people with high level special educational needs and disabilities," said NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney.
England: An Ipswich MP introduced a bill calling for universal dyslexia screening.
In December, West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock introduced a bill for a universal screening campaign.
Scotland: The government is slashing special ed funding at the same time the number of disabled students has exploded. Over 30 percent of Scottish students have special needs.
They found the average spend per pupil has fallen from £4276 [$5,273] in the 2012/13 financial year to £3402 [$4,295] in 2020/21 in cash terms. This is a 20.4% cut over the period.
Just under a third of pupils across Scotland have ASN – including those with autism, dyslexia and mental health problems – and the number is rising.
The SCSC said ASN pupils are “disproportionately drawn from poorer neighbourhoods” and pointed to figures which showed their numbers had increased by 92.2% since 2012. ASN pupils increased from 118,011 in 2012 to 226,838 in 2020.
Suffolk, England: Children are waiting up to three years for an autism diagnosis and services.
Dr Dan Poulter said he feared delays to education health and care plans (EHCPs) – key documents which outline specific measures SEND youngsters need in their learning – were getting worse, not better.
Suffolk County Council said EHCP assessments, which should be done within 20 weeks of referral, are currently at an average of around 23 weeks.
But it said that the national shortage of speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and education psychologists is impacting on EHCPs and the 20-week target time because they need to feed into the assessments and preparation of plans….
The Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP said in some cases youngsters were waiting 12 months or more for an initial assessment and up to two years for a plan to be put in place.
Cheshire, England: A new school for children with special educational needs and disabilities will be built in Halton….
Known as the Raise Academy, it will initially accept 50 children aged 11 to 16, but its capacity will eventually increase to 64.
Isle of Wight, England: Officials are taking a survey to find out how waiting times for an autism diagnosis affects families.
Do changes and improvements need to be made to the way autism and ADHD are assessed on the Isle of Wight?
Families waiting to see an expert are being urged to take part in an NHS survey….
In 2018, hundreds of families were waiting for diagnosis.
As the Isle of Wight County Press reported at the time, some families had waited for two years, and it led to urgent measures being brought in to improve the situation.
Dorset, England: New special school opens.
Coombe House School is part of Dorset Council's £37.5 million [$46.3] investment in young people.
Coombe House School, Shaftesbury will open for children with special educational needs today. (16 May)…
Dorset Council made the decision to purchase the school site last year to meet the growing need for more high-quality special education provision. …
An extensive building and renovation programme has taken place and further work is planned over the next 18 months.
This will enable the school to expand to its full capacity of 280 children, alongside the many other uses for the whole Centre of Excellence site.
Ireland: 15 autistic students have no place in secondary school.
According to the organisers of the meeting, a survey of 100% of principals of primary schools in Dublin 15 has revealed that there are at least 15 children who have no appropriate placement at secondary level this autumn.
The survey also revealed that, on average, a total of 42 places will be required at secondary school for children with autism in Dublin 15 every year – and there is not a single secondary level special class place available for children with autism in the area.
Disabled children are having an impact here too.
Philadelphia: New autism treatment center opens.
In all, there are 10 centers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and two more will open soon in Fairmount and Lancaster….
Forty people work at the Bustleton center, with 280 employed at all of the centers.
Shelton, CT: Special ed is impacting the budget.
According to school Finance Director Todd Heffelfinger’s April finance report, special education tuition and related transportation costs are over budget by some $2 million.
Hasbrouck, NJ: Special ed is taking a big chunk out of the school budget.
Special Education is budgeted at $9,901,142, or 23.66%.
I’ll have more of the same next week.