What follows is a personal story, but I am writing it is an illustration of what is happening in SEND services across the land. Last September I retired after 32 years of being a teacher, mostly in Local Authority SEND support services and special facilities. I took early retirement at 55 because I couldn’t tolerate the stress of working twice the number of contracted hours that I was supposed to work, due to absurd workload, and the stress of feeling that I was failing vulnerable children and their families.
This workload increase, and reduced provision for children, was caused by covering the work of other people whose posts had been “deleted” in response to government cuts (the loss of the Revenue Support Grant and the real terms diminution of the High Needs Block which LAs receive to pay for SEND services, special schools and EHCPs).
To make it worse, most LAs SEND support services have been marketised: schools have to pay for them – but from nothing! With schools having ever reducing budgets they stop purchasing LA services, then more cuts are made to services, and teachers workloads increase, and the services to children and parents decline; and then the remaining services are deemed to be of little help by schools and parents, because they don’t have enough staff to do a good job any more.
This is happening across the land – SEND services evaporating everywhere – and on the whole only the parents of children effected and the teachers in those services really know the size of the cuts and the size of workload the remaining teachers face.