Our first election blog post by Whitstable Labour Party member, Emma.
This general election feels like an extraordinary opportunity for people to vote, not only to oppose nine years of brutal austerity, but also in favour of a manifesto that offers real hope for transforming our society.
There are so many aspects of the manifesto to shout about! Aside from rebuilding our NHS and the promise for a Green Industrial Revolution to tackle the climate crisis, I am personally really excited about the prospect of a National Education Service which will put trust back into teachers and school leaders and removes the need for excessive testing of primary aged pupils.
The Disability manifesto and the work on neurodiversity is also very welcome as there is currently a crisis in provision for children with SEND. Approximately 8500 children are currently waiting for a suitable school placement in the UK, with many parents being forced to home educate.
We were nearly put in that precarious position in 2017 when our disabled son’s school funding was cut after he was due to start at his new school. This was despite legally binding agreements made between the school and the Local Authority in his Education Health Care Plan (EHCP).
After writing to Rosie and having numerous meetings, we were able to get the funding decision reversed and my son was able to stay at his school. But we know we are the lucky ones.
There are still around 6000 children in the Canterbury area waiting typically two years just to be assessed for neurological conditions. Whilst the damning OFSTED/Care Quality Commission Inspection (February 2019) has kickstarted a serious and rigorous effort to address the problems, there is still a fundamental shortfall in funding and provision for children with SEND, whether they are in mainstream education or need to be supported in special school placements.
Parents of disabled children should not have to fight for adequate funding and support for their children’s needs. Schools should not have to turn disabled children away from their school communities and parents of typical children shouldn’t feel that their own children are missing out on vital school funding at the expense of children with additional needs. But fight we must and do, as any parent would. You only get one childhood and it is a great comfort to know that in Rosie, we have a compassionate and influential MP who thinks that our atypical children matter too.
I believe that under a Labour government the SEND crisis will be addressed so schools will be able to support pupils of all backgrounds and abilities.
Here in Canterbury, Whitstable and the villages, we need to re-elect Rosie Duffield – a fantastic MP who works hard for all her constituents. Vote Labour on December 12th!
You can read the joint Ofsted/Care Quality Commission report here.
You can read Kent County Council’s response and plan to address the problems with CYP services here.