Last week, the Chief Executive of Dingley’s Promise, Catherine McLeod MBE lobbied members of Parliament on the accessibility of the 30 hours provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Recent statistics released by the Department for Education show that children with SEND are less likely to access their entitlements in the early years compared to their mainstream peers.
Only 6.3% of 3 and 4 year olds accessing their 15 hours entitlement have SEND
Only 2.6% of 3 and 4 year olds accessing their 30 hours entitlement have SEND
Our research undertaken in 2017 identified a training and development need in settings in order to increase their capacity for children with SEND. 68% of settings felt they needed more support and advice, whilst 63% felt they needed better training in order to take more children with SEND.
Our own research with families found only 4% are taking up the new 30 hour offer for their child, whilst a whopping 45% still weren’t sure if they were entitled.
Catherine McLeod MBE attended the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Families in the Early Years campaign day. Catherine met with Richard Benyon; MP for West Berkshire to discuss the issue, gaining his commitment to raise this with the Minister. She also spoke with Tulip Siddiq; the Chair of the APPG on Childcare and Early Education, and Tracy Brabin MP; the Shadow Minister for Early Years, both of whom were very interested in the latest research findings, and strategies for ensuring every child is included. After the event, Catherine also met with Windsor and Maidenhead MP Adam Afriyie in his offices to raise awareness about the same issues.
Our recommendations to MPs include a duty on Local Authorities to ensure SEND early years sufficiency, increased training and support for early year’s settings and further support for families to help them understand and access their entitlements.
Catherine McLeod MBE said “It was heartening to see so many MPs attending the lobbying day, and I do believe there is a strong will to ensure inclusion for all children in the early years. However, in order to achieve this, there needs to be a clear focus on enabling children with SEND to access their entitlements, using direct actions and support for both settings and families. Without this, the gap between children with SEND and other children will continue to grow and the life chances of children with SEND will continue to be limited for many. We cannot let this happen in our society and must take a stand now to ensure equity for all of our children.”