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Special ed funding changes risks sending SEN to private sector

Changes to the law which will give parents the right to buy-in specialist special educational needs (SEN) and disabled care for children from next year is likely to drive talented special needs teachers into the private sector.

That’s the warning from one of the leading educational recruitment agencies, TLTP Education (The London Teaching Pool), which has been recruiting SEN staff for state and private schools for nearly ten years. The agency says that with the closure of many state-funded SEN units it also foresees problems in the short term accommodating young people who cannot be placed in mainstream educational establishments.

“The feedback that we are getting from our candidates is that whilst these reforms are broadly positive there may be some disconnect between the provision that parents feel their children need and that which their schools and SEN teachers may feel they need,” explains TLTP managing director Darryl Mydat.

“In addition, the closure of many state-funded units will continue to drive specialist SEN provision much more into the private sector. In turn, this means that much of the talent and expertise that has been available within state schools is understandably going to follow the vacancies into private and independent facilities. It is to be hoped that this does not adversely impact on children already in the state system and requiring SEN support.”

That, says Mydat, should be a cause for some concern given recent Department of Education figures showing more that than 1.5 million children have special educational needs. In total, almost one in five (18.7%) of children - around 1.55 million - were considered to have some type of special need (SEN) in 2012/13.

Under the new rulesparents will be given the power to control personal budgets for their children with severe, profound or multiple health and learning - meaning they can choose the expert support that is right for their child, instead of local authorities being the sole provider.

“It remains to be seen how effective this reform of SEN will be in forcing education, health and social care teams to plan services together. We have seen too many times instances where failures of this kind have caused young people to fall through the cracks.”

TLTP Education are SEN recruitment specialists supplying the sector with qualified teachers, teaching assistants, support staff, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

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