A report from a cross-party group of MPs has found that parents are suffering as they face a battle to secure school spaces and adequate support for their children. Parents have attempted suicide, been forced to give up their jobs, and re-mortgage their homes, the education select committee found at the end of their 18-month enquiry.
MPs heard “countless” examples of pupils facing off-rolling and exclusion, with schools actively discouraging parents from enrolling children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Some students have been made to wait for years for an appropriate school place.
The report stated that parents need a cocktail of “special knowledge and social capital” to make headway in a system “thrown into crisis” and “despair”, and even then those who are successful are left “exhausted” by the experience.
Penny Hoffmann-Becking, a parent and member of SEND Family Voices, was quoted in the report: “I feel that many parents I speak to are living in a constant state of anxiety.”
Conservative MP Robert Halfon, chair of the committee, said: “The Department for Education (DfE) cannot continue with a piecemeal and reactive approach to supporting children with SEND.” Halfon added: “rather than making do with sticking plasters, what is needed is a transformation, a more strategic oversight and fundamental change to ensure a generation of children is no longer let down.”