Disability Rights UK Newsletter

SEND Review raises red flags

The Department for Education (DfE) has opened a consultation on its SEND Green Paper Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Review: right support, right place, right time. It is asking for views on the future of the SEND and alternative provision (AP) system from children and young people, parents and carers, those who work within the SEND sector and local and national system leaders. The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 1 July 2022.

Commenting on the SEND Review, DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “We welcome the fact that the Government recognises that outcomes for Disabled children are consistently worse than those of their peers across every measure.

“It is also right that it recognises that navigating SEND (special educational needs and disability) and support systems for Disabled children is a nightmarish experience for too many families.

“And it is right that it recognises that support has not been delivered consistently across Local Authorities, and that it intends to legislate for consistent national SEND standards and produce an updated Code of Practice.


“More children should be given an EHCP. EHCPs act as a transparent, legally protected record of provision for Disabled children. They should be rolled out to all children who need additional support. We are very concerned that the Government only wishes to maintain EHCPs for children it deems to have the most ‘severe’ needs.

Non-EHCP support

“Non-EHCP support is a poor relation to EHCPs, lacking the legal frameworks and protections which EHCPs offer. Such support leaves parents with no form of redress where the support is inadequate.

“The vast majority of Disabled children don’t have EHCPs, and are left flailing in the education system without adequate provision. One in six children (1.4 million) needs additional support. Less than 4% of schoolchildren are given an EHCP – just 51,800 pupils.

“One example of where such support fails, is where neurodivergent children and children with mental distress make up a high proportion of school refusers. Often without diagnoses or support, they are deemed as disruptive and misbehaving, and labelled as truants, leaving their parents to face prosecution if they do not force their children to attend inadequate school settings.

“It sounds as though the Government will be continuing to plough the furrow of inadequate ‘support’ instead of providing EHCPs to all who need them, despite overwhelming evidence that more robust, legally protected support is needed, as well as the removal of the threat of prosecution for families who are doing their utmost to get their children the support they need from a broken system.

Financial implications

“The Green Paper speaks of ‘unprecedented investment’ in SEND which is ‘not financially sustainable’, nor delivering better outcomes for Disabled pupils. But how this investment is spent has not been mentioned, nor whether it is enough for the size of the need.

“Disabled people are living longer. Big figures trumpeted as ‘unprecedented investment’ do not show how much resource is still needed. It is wholly inappropriate to attempt to reframe investment as significant, when, per capita, and appropriate to need, it is still absolutely inadequate. The Government does not recognise that a penny saved now results in pounds spent later, as Disabled children failed now will never reach the qualification benchmarks necessary for future employment.

“Over a quarter of a billion (£253m) has been spent by Local Authorities on fighting parents in SEND tribunals since 2014. 95% of these go in favour of the parents. This is SEND ‘investment’ – but the money has been spent in entirely the wrong areas. If the Government focused less on how much it is spending and more on the needs of Disabled children, perhaps funds would make it into providing meaningful support and access to education, which would result in the better outcomes for Disabled pupils we all wish to see.

“These are all red flags in terms of whether SEND provision can be improved for over a million children in the UK.”

You can view supporting resources to help understand the green paper at gov.uk. The government press release on the Review and consultation is here.

Schools White Paper still fails to recognise difference between truancy and school refusing

The Government has released its Schools White Paper. DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “The White Paper on schools released this week does not recognise a difference between school refusal due to mental health reasons and disability, and truancy.

“Schools are in complete meltdown when it comes to SEND. Teachers are at breaking point, there is a major lack of learning support assistants, families are in crisis, and children are being driven into untreated states of depression and anxiety, as well as having their life chances diminished to a vanishing point because of systemic failures to provide meaningful, well-funded, personalised support.

“The Government is fixated on Victorian values and Victorian ways of rote teaching en masse. This does not work for Disabled children who need personalised provision. One size doesn’t remotely fit all, when it comes to teaching, one size actively damages children, and that damage lasts a lifetime.

“The Government needs to start seeing developmental and behavioural challenges as flags that children do not feel safe and need much higher levels of support rather than punishment.

“The White Paper hints that the Government is going to clamp down on behaviour rather than lift up Disabled pupils. Challenging behaviour normally has its roots in additional needs, trauma, or school experience. This is not recognised at all in the White Paper. Seeing children’s behaviour as anti-social rather than as an often unavoidable dysregulated response to a lack of proper support for disability, is going to compound current problems for many pupils.”

Special Needs Jungle has published a guide to the White Paper.

Huge costs for social care for working age Disabled people

The Health and Care Bill returns to the House of Commons this week with the Government expected to vote to overturn the House of Lords’ prior decision on amending the care cap so that anyone under 40 would not have to contribute costs towards their future care.

The Lords supported the Dilnot Commission report into health and social care, which proposed that anyone under 40 does not have to contribute, as they largely have not built up assets.

However, the Commons is expected to reintroduce the cap on care costs this week, meaning that working age Disabled people will continue to have to contribute significant amounts out of their benefit income to their social care. DR UK has raised these issues with MPs and will continue to make the case as the Bill progresses.

Disability Rights CEO Kamran Mallick said: “There is no doubt that social care needs urgent reform.

“But it is morally unfair to ask any Disabled person under the age of 40 to pay for it. Disabled people, especially of working age, are already having to choose between heating and eating, especially if they cannot work and need to live on benefits, due to the rising costs of food and fuel.

“In order to make care fair, those in poverty, who already spend a disproportionate amount on care, should rightly face a zero cap.

“Without this, another spectre of the poverty crisis is looming.

“We implore the House of Commons to see fairness and sense and vote to amend the Bill so that younger Disabled people do not need to live life in fear, with inadequate care to meet their needs.”

Get Yourself Active and Ageing Better launch disability and age-friendly image library to tackle stereotypes

Together with the Centre for Ageing Better, Get Yourself Active has launched Picture Yourself Active – a new, publicly accessible image library of over 300 photos depicting older and Disabled people getting active to challenge pervasive negative stereotypes.

The library contains positive and authentic images of older and Disabled people which reinforce the important notion that not all disabilities are visible by including a range of experiences often not recognised within society. Disability Rights CEO Kamran Mallick said: “Disabled people are no strangers to inaccurate depictions. We’ve been battling stereotypes and lazy representations of us that fail to recognise our basic humanity for years and years. Negative attitudes are such a pervasive barrier that prevent Disabled people from getting out and having fun wherever they are.

“Picture Yourself Active is such an exciting project. It ensures that many more representative images are available to show Disabled people getting active. We want to see organisations take on the project’s learning and advice to ensure that our lives are no longer reduced to lazy stereotypes.” The library is available here.

Mobility centre initiative announced

Disability Rights UK has welcomed the new £1.5 million mobility centre initiative announced by the Department for Transport. It is important that Disabled people have the right mobility solutions available and can access public transport safely, so we feel able to get out of isolation and build our social connections and quality of life. DR UK Transport Policy Adviser Stephen Brookes said: “It is important that the initiative takes into account all areas and all disabilities, and is not limited to people with restricted mobility. We need to see that all Disabled people can benefit from well sourced information which must include reasonable adjustments for passengers under the Equality Act which offer full accessibility service and fare information.”