Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in England Face Acute Childcare Crisis During School Holidays

Parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have expressed their disappointment over the lack of suitable childcare options during school holidays.

According to figures shared with the BBC by the charity Coram, only one in 20 councils in England provide sufficient childcare for SEND children during school breaks.

In some areas, such as London, Yorkshire, and the East Midlands, there is no council with sufficient childcare available.

Councils have stated that more funding and a larger workforce are needed to address the issue.

Amy Walker, a parent of a five-year-old autistic son, Charlie, has expressed her concerns about the impact the lack of structured routine will have on Charlie during the summer.

She is unable to work due to having to care for her son, and would like councils to organize holiday clubs for children with SEND.

The Coram survey found that only six out of 126 councils in England said there was sufficient childcare available for SEND children.

In Scotland, no councils reported having enough childcare available in all areas, while in Wales, only 5% of councils said there was adequate provision.

In a separate survey of 1,800 parents of children with SEND by the charity Contact and the Disabled Children's Partnership, nine out of 10 parents said they were unable to find a suitable holiday club or activity.

Una Summerson, head of campaigns at Contact, noted that while there is a legal duty to provide childcare for children with SEND, it does not have to be paid for by the local authority, making it unaffordable for many families.

The government's holiday activities and food program is available for low-income families and provides funded childcare as well as a meal, but Amy said there was nothing on offer through this program for Charlie due to his additional needs.

The lack of suitable childcare options has a significant impact on families, with many being quoted more than £150 a day for a holiday club for their disabled child.

Coram's research found that in large parts of England, including London, the South West, Yorkshire, and the East Midlands, there was no council with sufficient childcare available for disabled children in all areas.

The areas with the best provision Special education needs and disabilities (SEND) in England are facing a crisis, according to a recent report from the National Audit Office (NAO).

The report found that schools are struggling to meet the needs of children with SEND, with many being taught in inadequate or unsuitable provision.

The government has been urged to take action to address the issue, with a spokesperson from the Department of Education stating that they are "investing £30m to test new and innovative approaches to short respite breaks for families of children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities." In addition to the funding for respite breaks, the government has also committed to providing holiday activities and food for children from low-income families through its £200m per year program.

However, the NAO report highlights that there is a lack of coordination between local authorities and schools, and that the current system is fragmented and difficult to navigate.

This has led to many children with SEND being unnecessarily excluded from mainstream schools, with the report stating that "adequate funding, skilled practitioners and wider system support are essential to the early identification of need and support for children with special educational needs and disabilities." The NAO report recommends that the government should set out a clear strategy for SEND, including a funding model that is "ring-fenced, transparent and flexible." It also calls for better coordination between local authorities and schools, and for more support for parents and carers of children with SEND.

The crisis in SEND has been a growing concern for some time, with many parents and carers reporting difficulties in getting the support their children need.

The NAO report highlights the urgent need for action to address these issues, with the government being urged to provide the necessary funding and resources to ensure that all children with SEND can access the education they are entitled to.