An online independent school has been re-introducing children with SEND (Special Education Needs and Disabilities), whose needs for adequate support in their learning and development haven’t been met, back into school.
According to Ofsted, many families have been waiting as long as two years to obtain support for their children’s learning needs. As a result, Minerva’s Virtual Academy, which provides support and guidance to children with SEND, have been “flooded” with calls from desperate parents who have exhausted all options.
Lawrence Tubb, Minerva’s Virtual Academy headmaster, said: “Many of the families we speak to have children with severe SEND issues including autism, which can affect a child’s capacity for learning in multiple ways. Several of our pupils have had their confidence knocked via the system and have struggled to fit in, adapt and progress in their schools.
“The pandemic has of course, not helped matters. The reality is, many families have been unable to access appropriate support and care or have experienced delays in obtaining a medical diagnosis, which means they are left to battle in the interim with little or no learning provision.”
‘It is incredibly disappointing to hear that so many families with children with special educational needs are struggling to access the provision they need’ – Lawrence Tubb, Minerva’s Virtual Academy
Official government data suggests that there are over 160,000 autistic school children across England. Within this group, 70% are in mainstream schools, while the rest are either receiving specialist education, home education or are out of education altogether.
Ofsted have stated that exclusion of SEND children is “too high”, while a lack of government funding means that there is a lack of specialist equipment, leaving provision for children “compromised”.
Tubb added: “One of our newer parents has been fighting to access appropriate support for her autistic son via her local authority, for some time and has just enrolled him at The Academy. Her child has severe SEND issues and like many other autistic children, he struggles to cope with things that don’t have an immediate purpose to his future outcomes.
“Her family has been let down on numerous occasions by the system but since her son started being educated from home, he is coping much better. Being able to learn in the comfort of his own home and at his own pace, has been a real game changer for this child.
“Providing personal, one-to-one mentoring sessions for all pupils as well as regular wellbeing sessions to support learning and mental health is vital across the board at the moment. Too many children have been impacted negatively in terms of their schooling over the last year or so, and it is incredibly disappointing to hear that so many families with children with special educational needs are struggling to access the provision they need.”
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