Special Educational Needs Provision

13th February 2019

Since becoming Mid Norfolk’s MP back in 2010 I have been a vocal supporter of those involved in the Special Educational Needs (SEN) sector in our area, in particular the brilliant work of Chapel Green School in Old Buckenham.

Chapel Green is a real beacon of hope to the children and families that rely upon it, and their staff do truly outstanding work. The school’s relocation from Attleborough to Old Buckenham has been an incredible success story, and I am always inspired by the outstanding work being done by Headteacher, Karin Heap and her team.

Despite the tremendous success story however, I was informed by Governors at a recent visit to Chapel Green that the school is facing serious pressures in relation to admissions - caused largely by the increasing inability of mainstream schools to cope with the needs of children that have special educational needs.

Although the first-class facilities and service provided by Chapel Green are understandably a contributing factor to the high demand for places, it is clear that a lack of appropriate SEN skilled staff in mainstream schools is the primary reason for the difficulties being encountered. As a result, I am informed that the school is having to grow at a much faster rate than planned, with places being taken by pupils for whom the school was not originally designed or staffed for, placing particular strain on precious resources and facilities.

This is in no way an issue isolated to Norfolk, but it is apparent that it is particularly prevalent to our county – with, I understand, a number of other schools in our area reporting similar challenges and pressures. That’s why I raised the issue with Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education at Education Questions in Parliament and am working with local councillors and the relevant agencies to discuss what needs to be done locally and nationally to best address the problems being faced and to ensure that our region’s most vulnerable children are getting the education and support they deserve.

To view my full question to the Secretary of State for Education, and his response, please see the video below:

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