An early years charity is launching a new manifesto aimed at highlighting a huge shortfall in SEND places.
Dingley’s Promise is calling on decision makers to consider the impact of the new entitlements and is urging them to take action in order to avoid a situation where even more children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are excluded from early years settings.
A “tsunami of need”
The launch of the manifesto comes following new research which found one in five children with SEND risk being turned away from a provision setting due to their needs.
This research is based on survey responses from more than 550 families with a child with special educational needs and disabilities.
It revealed that, over the past year, roughly a quarter (27%) of special educational settings said they were unable to offer any further spaces for children with SEND.
More than half (57%) said they would not be able to offer spaces following the introduction of the new entitlements.
The research also found that:
95% of settings said the number of children with special educational needs and disabilities is increasing
85% of local authorities said they currently have insufficient SEND provision.
Dingley’s Promise says this research paints a bleak picture of the difficulties faced by families, settings and local authorities in giving children with SEND the right start in education.
The charity is now warning that a huge increase in the number of children with SEND, combined with a lack of SEND training and complicated funding processes, is creating a “tsunami of need.”
New entitlements risk excluding more children with SEND
The charity’s manifesto, which will be presented to the House of Lords, aims to influence decision makers as they roll out increased entitlements in the early years.
It outlines three key areas that need to be addressed to improve the situation:
Workforce development including inclusion training for every member of staff
Simple and sufficient funding systems
A long-term focus on securing enough places for all children that need them.
Catherine McLeod, CEO of Dingley’s Promise is warning that, without action, the new entitlements are likely to cause even greater exclusion of children with SEND.
She said: “We strongly believe that unless there is inclusion training for all early years practitioners and simple, accessible and sufficient funding streams to support inclusion, the new entitlements risk excluding even more children with SEND.
“It is critical that decision makers consider the impact of the new entitlements on children with SEND and take action now to avoid creating even more exclusion of our most vulnerable children.”
Neil Leitch, of the Early Years Alliance, said these changes would reduce financial pressure on settings and improve the wellbeing of early educators.
“All while giving more children, regardless of their level of need, the chance to experience high-quality early years provision,” he added.
The manifesto will be presented to the House of Lords on Tuesday 14 November.