Two years ago Kent Conservatives promised to deliver support to all children with Special Educational Needs within 20 weeks. In 2021 only a third are getting the support they need in that time. Not only is it a broken promise, it is also a failure of political leadership and will only add in time to an adult social care budget spiralling out of control.
The cause for the continued delays are a lack of suitably qualified assessors and insufficient specialist school places and specialist resourced provision attached to mainstream schools. By failing to provide the support required the County Council is storing up trouble. Adult social care now takes half the county council budget. Investment in support at the start of a child's education gives the best chance of independence, fulfilment and making a contribution to society.
Cllr Richard Streatfeild appearing on BBC politics today said "My personal experience was exactly as described in the 2019 OFSTED report, which was a damning indictment of Kent's SEND provision. Promises were made then that have been broken now, and the majority of children with a special educational need still don't get the provision required by law from the county."
Richard Streatfeild campaigned at the elections in May for better education in Sevenoaks, supporting one of the six Liberal Democrat priorities in the Kent County Council elections. Working to help ensure that every child can go to a good school, pre-school or college. For every child to have access to a good nursery; to give schools the help they need, so every child can thrive in the classroom and get a good start in life. And to make special needs assessments easier and quicker.
Across Kent children with special educational needs have been failed by the county's provision. It impacts everyone at school. In Sevenoaks there is only specialist provision within a mainstream setting. This negatively impacts all pupils and places extra demands on all teachers. Having been elected Richard alongside his Liberal Democrat colleagues is campaigning for more training and support for teachers, better support for parents and the provision of the right educational setting for all pupils.
Richard says "We know from this year just how much this generation has been impacted by time out of the classroom. As they come back in it is really important for the whole generation that we provide the right support, and places to give them all the best chance of success.
"We must fulfil the statutory requirement to give support to those who have the greatest need. Only the Liberal Democrats will provide the right setting, support and training to enhance the prospects of every child at school."