Mother doesn't know what future holds for special educational needs son

4 September 2020, 17:59

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

"I've never had six months like it," this caller tells of her "horrendous" lockdown education experience for her disabled son.

One caller phoned LBC to tell Eddie Mair about her experiences attempting to teach her son during lockdown and it was a heartbreaking tale.

Sharon from Camden said it had "just been horrendous" branding Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and the Government a "disgrace".

She told LBC that special needs pupils are unable to "manage the change" and pointed out that they need extra support.

"The plan for the future is, who knows," she said.

Sharon's words come as a new study has found pupils at special schools in England have been “forgotten about” in the rush to restart full-time education.

The report found 20,000 children with special needs are unlikely to return to school because of safety concerns.

Sharon's son is a 13-year-old with a language processing delay meaning he can't read or write.

Emotively Sharon said, "this part of the education system has been lacking even before coronavirus".

She told LBC this meant children who should be in special schools are not due to a lack of funding, they are simply given an "education plan" and sent to mainstream schools.

Explaining to Eddie how mainstream schools manage special educational needs pupils the caller said her son has a learning assistant while in class who would read and write for him.

But now, she revealed since coronavirus nobody is able to do that.

She said during the lockdown she has had "six months of non-differentiated work" which she explained as being given work for "average children."

Coming close to tears Sharon told LBC her son could not manage all the changes and worst of all that social workers had been put on furlough.

She said it was a situation they could never imagine being in, branding the decision to place the social workers on furlough as "insane".

"They have a duty of care to provide for these children and they're leaving them," Sharon said.

When Eddie asked what the plan was for her son and his education Sharon said she just did not know.

She said he will be going back to school on Monday, but he would not have anyone sitting with him in the class.

Heartbreakingly Sharon's furlough also ends on Monday meaning she will have to return to work too.

"I have no idea what's coming down the line".

Sharon said her son was "already behind" in his education and now he would be "unable to learn".

In a call that truly had to be heard to be believed Sharon laid out the stark consequences for her son, and for her.

"They're in hell, and there's not enough support" Sharon said, adding "we should hang our heads in shame."

The study, undertaken by ASK Research with support from NFER, and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, involved in-depth interviews with and surveys of special schools and colleges in England who provide specialist places for children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans and over 500 parents whose children attend special schools.

The survey found:

-84% of special school and college leaders think some of their pupils will not return to school this term.

-64% thought this was because parents do not think it would be safe.

-98% of special school and college leaders said they have pupils who they thought would find adhering to safe practice and social distancing from adults, difficult.

Watch the whole moving call in the video at the top of the page.