Press Release: Government taken to court for failing the education rights of disabled children as over 40,000 sign up to demand more funding
Over 65,000 people have supported the Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE)’s 38 Degrees campaign ‘Don’t shut disabled people out of mainstream education’. Petitioners are calling on the Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to increase funding for SEND support.
“Cuts to education budget are stripping disabled pupils of their right to be educated alongside their non disabled peers in local mainstream schools, denying them the same opportunities”, says Simone Aspis, ALLFIE’s Policy and Campaigns Coordinator.
The petition coincides this week with a ground-breaking legal case highlighting the plight of families whose disabled children are being excluded.
On 26 and 27 June the Secretary of State for Education and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will face charges that their cuts to education budgets have caused unlawful disability-related discrimination and breached disabled pupils’ human rights.
The case follows successful campaigning by ALLFIE and the findings of the UN Monitoring Committee in 2017 that the cuts to special education violated disabled pupils’ human rights set out in Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
Mainstream schools are facing the brunt of the education cuts. The National Association of Head Teachers survey (2018) reported that 73% of mainstream schools found it harder to resource support for teaching assistants and pastoral staff for disabled pupils. Half of the respondents said that overall local authority top-up funding levels had decreased over the previous 12 months, showing a rapid deterioration in the ability of schools to support children with high levels of need.
Schools’ concern about this deterioration is echoed by the Local Government Association:
“… if councils do not receive sufficient funding to cover high cost SEND, they will not have the resources to allocate extra funds to highly inclusive schools… Equally, mainstream schools may find it difficult to accept or keep pupils with SEND because they cannot afford to subsidise the provision from their own budgets” (LGA 2019).
Increasing school exclusions, off-rolling and inadequate SEND provision in mainstream schools as a result of cuts has led to a spike in unlawful disability-related discrimination practices often leaving pupils without a school placement. More children with special needs are now being educated outside of mainstream schools for the first time ever. Latest school census figures show that the majority – just over 50 per cent – of the 277,991 children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)/SEN statements in compulsory school education were placed in segregated education in 2019.
“We want the judge to set out clearly that the Government has a duty to develop a fully inclusive education system where disabled pupils and students’ rights are upheld”, say Simone.
People can support the 38 Degrees campaign created by ALLFIE here.
ALLFIE will be attending the court case and be available for interview on both days, 26th and 27th June 2019.
Simone Aspis’s contact details are on 07856 -213-837
Email address firstname.lastname@example.org