One in three teachers have no behaviour support for pupils with additional needs, poll finds

One in three teachers say they have no behaviour support team for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (Send), while one in four have no educational psychologist or speech and language therapist to help them, according to a union survey.

The online poll, which attracted responses from 8,000 members of the National Education Union (NEU), indicated that seven in eight teachers feel resources are insufficient to meet growing demand, with three-quarters calling for more learning support assistants in classrooms.

Two in five (41%) said they had no access to counsellors or occupational health specialists to support pupils with Send, and more than half (56%) were not confident that a referral for a Send assessment, diagnosis or specialist support would lead to that pupil getting the help they needed.

One respondent complained of a six-year wait for support for pupils, “meaning students don’t receive the help they need until too late”. Another said: Waiting lists mean that some children will never be seen. They will ‘age out’ and join adult waiting lists.”

“The current system is failing children,” another NEU member said. “We do not have the resources, environments, skilled staff or time to support these students. Funding is completely inadequate and paying to support children with high-level need has wiped out our school budget and negatively impacted all other pupils.”

On education, health and care plans (EHCP), legal documents that set out a child’s needs and the additional specialist support they require, one contributor said: “There is a thinking in my school that it’s not usually worth applying for an EHCP because either it will be rejected or won’t make any difference.”

Another said: “We are drowning. The children are not getting what they need or deserve. Parents are not getting what they need. The people in charge should feel ashamed.”

The NEU general secretary, Daniel Kebede, said it was “shameful” that the government had done so little to help schools and local authorities meet the growing Send challenge.

“The crisis in Send funding has gone on for too long,” he said. “It weighs heavily on schools that want to help but are stretched to the limit. We are seeing children spending too much of their journey through the school system without the support they need.”

Calling for a major funding commitment from government, he added: “It is in the interests of everyone in the school community and government to resource Send well and ensure that children’s engagement is not jeopardised simply because of cuts.”

Results from the poll, which was conducted among NEU members in England and Wales, were published as delegates meet on Thursday for the second day of the union’s annual conference in Bournemouth, where the crisis in Send funding will be debated.

The motion calls on the union to lobby the government for increased funding for Send provision, warning that the situation is becoming critical.

It adds: “Children and their families are being let down by a system which is seemingly blind to the impact on future generations.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We want all children to have the chance to reach their potential, which is why we are increasing funding for young people with complex needs by over £10.5bn next year – up 60% in the last five years.

“We are actively delivering against our Send and AP (alternative provision) improvement plan, reforming the system across the country with earlier intervention, consistent high standards and less bureaucracy.

“We are committed to training thousands of workers so children can get the help they need, including investing over £2m to train 400 more educational psychologists from this year and increasing the number of teaching assistants by 59,600 from 2011.”

The Guardian