Isle of Wight SEND demo shines light on ‘local scandal’

“A ‘local scandal’ – special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) young people are being failed,” says Peter Shreeve from the National Education Union.

peter shreeve at demo

Peter Shreeve, local joint secretary of the National Education Union shares this report from today’s SEND demo in Newport. The Isle of Wight council have previously stated that they have “responded well” to the SEND crisis. Ed


On Thursday 30th May parents, students, teachers, support staff and trade unions met in St Thomas’ Square, Newport to raise concerns over a ‘local scandal’ that 100s of Island children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) were being failed.

Robert Halfon MP, chair of the Education Select Committee recently said of the SEND system: “It’s a big mess”.

The “treacle of bureaucracy”
No-one thinks the reformed SEND system is working and there is a clear disparity between what the Government wanted to happen and recent parental experience.

There is:

What caused this poor experience?  According to one head teacher survey – sustained and deep cuts!

  • LA cuts to high needs top-up funding
  • Cuts to mainstream school funding 
  • Cuts to health and social care services

Loss of 28% of funding
Since 2015, nine out of ten local authorities have lost out on vital funding for children who need the most support.

Family at SEND Demo

We are one. On the Isle of Wight the total cash shortfall in High Needs funding since 2015 is £5,663,267! 

Or a loss of nearly 28% – the difference in age weighted cost of EHCP per child from 2015/16 to 2018/19 (All figures in 2018/9 prices)

Third longest delay in the country
Last year a FOI investigation by the BBC found the Isle of Wight had the third longest delay in the country for providing children who have special educational needs, with a finalised education, health and care plan (EHC). 

The expectation is 20 weeks.  The longest on the Island was 1,005 days (over two and a half years).

Ofsted: A national scandal
Last December in her annual report, Ofsted chief inspector, Amanda Spielman highlighted SEND provision as ‘a national scandal’ It is also a local scandal.  Between 2015-19 the numbers of students with EHC plans has increased by 65%.

Maria Villa Vine at SEND demo

In addition, the numbers of Island pupils with EHC plans not in school have more than doubled since last year.

This May, at the final hearing of the House of Commons Education Select Committee’s yearlong SEND inquiry, SEND minister Nadhim Zahawi said repeatedly about provision: “It’s a journey.”

Let’s shine a light on this local scandal
If SEND success is a journey, it is one with no end in sight and what’s even worse is we are driving in the dark with one headlight and that’s none too bright. 

Let’s shine a light on this local scandal and let’s give special educational needs and disabilities the support it needs!

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