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Support needed for disabled pupils

Union director: SEN provision woefully inadequate.
Union director: SEN provision woefully inadequate.
Union director: SEN provision woefully inadequate.

A LEADING teaching union has said schools need to provide more support for pupils who are physically disabled. The ATL union says that from a survey of 500 teachers and lecturers of their membership, over 65% of them had confi rmed this to be the case. 63% of their members did however say that awareness had increased over the last two years. Over a third (38%) believe that recent special educational needs (SEN) reforms have had an impact on the support their school or college offers to pupils with physical conditions. 

A spokesperson for the ATL went on to say that, ‘with a lack in funds over the past year, there have been a large number of redundancies in SEN teaching and support staff roles. This has resulted in schools and colleges losing vital SEN expertise and being left unable to provide sufficient support packages for pupils with physical conditions’.

Dr Philip Dixon, Director of ATL Cymru, said: “SEN provision is still woefully inadequate in many schools and colleges as our survey shows. Teachers must now meet a far wider range of special educational and disability needs, despite a lack of training, and huge cuts to external support services. Members are concerned that these extra unsupported responsibilities will stop them doing their job to the best of their abilities. Continued cuts to education budgets could mean that some schools and colleges will be unable to meet their legal obligations for disabled pupils under the Equality Act 2010.

The Act legislates for equal, and in some cases additional adjustments, to enable these pupils to flourish and achieve their potential.” A Welsh Government spokesperson, commenting on the results of the survey, said: “We are committed to creating an inclusive education system for all learners, regardless of their needs and to ensuring all learners are able to access a high standard of education. Local authorities are legally obliged to ensure access to a suitable education for all pupils, including those with special educational needs or a disability.

As part of this they must prioritise the funding that we allocate to them to best meet local needs and they must work with schools to ensure funding arrangements are effective in supporting and raising the achievement of all learners, regardless of their need. We are in the process of reforming the current legislative framework for supporting learners with special educational needs and are introducing a unifi ed legislative framework to support children and young people up to the age of 25 with additional learning needs. The new legislation will enable us to improve the planning and delivery of additional learning provision and ensure it is much more focussed. Additionally our recently announced ‘new deal’ has been designed to support teachers, leaders and support staff with their professional development throughout their careers and will include a focus on increasing the capability of teachers and schools to better meet the learning needs of all learners including those with special needs.” The Herald asked what provisions Pembrokeshire County Council made for disabled pupils, they confi rmed that they adhere to the Additional Learning Needs Policy document.