Protests has sprouted up across the UK against funding cuts for Special Educational Needs support in schools. 28 towns a cities played host to rallies and marches including London, Leeds and Birmingham.
These national rallies are the first of their kind in the UK. One of which was led by Emma Parker whose son James has spent over two years out of school in the last five as a result of sanctions, reduced timetables and exclusions.
An issue we wrote about in our article here is that schools who are underfunded for SEND support typically end up relying on sanctions to address issues they could be tackling in a more proactive manner. A recent report has shown that pupils with special needs are statistically more likely to be expelled and sent to isolation rooms.
“We have thousands of children across the UK who are not in schools, who are on reduced timetables and who don’t have access to the schools that they desperately need,” Parker said.
Her son James Parker delivered a 13,000 signature petition to end the "spending crisis" on SEND in schools.
Emma & James Parker.
Ministers for the Department of Education (DfE) commissioned a review last march and concluded that schools are using expulsions to get rid of students they fear may drag the schools results down and insisted that head teachers take responsibility for students who they have excluded from school.
The Dept. of Education released stats within the last fortnight which explained that SEND students have increased by 11% from last year alone. That’s a whopping 34,200 children that schools have to accommodate with limited funding and training to do so.
The TV presenter Carrie Grant attended and spoke at one of the rally’s describing her experience of attaining support for her four children with special needs as "shocking to say the least"
“The world that they [disabled children] face is a world that is just not ready.” - Grant
Children with special needs and excellent grades are being rejected from attending 6th form colleges with education centres claiming they just do not have the funding to support them. With local Government Association estimates a £500M deficit between what UK schools and education centres need and what they currently receive.
Last year Ali Fiddy, the chief executive of Independent Parental Special Education Advice said
“The system for supporting children and young people with SEND is verging on crisis. Against a backdrop of increasing cuts to local authority budgets, parents are having to deal with poor decision making on the part of local authorities"
Standing Desks Help Schools With SEND Pupils
Hundreds of UK schools are turning to standing desks to help provide stimulating and safe learning environments for kids with ADHD and similar special needs which find them with excessive energy. Schools wishing to trial our Eiger student standing desk can request a try before you buy trial right here.
Ministers have promised an extra £250M towards SEND but campaigners argue this still leaves a huge deficit and a severely unsolved problem.
The Guardian Oct 2018 // Special needs pupils being failed by system 'on verge of crisis'
The Telegraph May 2019 // Schools must be held accountable for results of excluded children
Chronicle Live March 2018 // Meet the autistic 11-year-old boy who the council can't find a school for
Sport England has called for a focus on children’s health after they conducted a world leading 130,000 participant survey into the activity levels of children and young people. The survey is the largest ever of its kind and contains results that detail how 2.3 million children do less than 30 minutes of activity each day.
The chief medical officer recommends at least 60 minutes of exercise a day for young people, the World Health Organisations recommends that at least 3 days a week that activity should be aerobic.
Chief Executive of Sport England Tim Hollingsworth said
“I am calling for a national focus on the health and wellbeing of our nation’s children and for the whole system to be united in delivering change. Our children deserve better and Sport England is determined to play its part,”
“Parents, schools, the sport and leisure industry and government all have a role to play in addressing and increasing childhood activity. This research is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and is a big wake-up call for all of us."
Meanwhile another survey of 2000 parents has demonstrated that mobile phones are edging out bikes, skateboards and roller-blades on children’s Christmas lists. Staggeringly 1 in 10 of the parents admit their children don’t even leave the house for a week at Christmas.
Whilse 3 in 10 youngsters get less than 30 minutes or less of fresh air daily, they get 3 hours of television and two and half hours on iPad, phones and computer games.
Tech is anchoring our children down and too many of them are not doing enough exercise or activity to keep them healthy. The World Cancer Research Fund recently detailed how their report demonstrated a link to 12 major cancers from increased screen time in children.
Jack Shakespeare of UKactive Kids said "movement has stripped out of our children’s lives with 'generation inactive' fed a staple diet of sofa play and screen time...It is vital for the health and happiness of this generation that we find ways to get children active."
Public Health England's head of diet, obesity and physical activity, Dr Alison Tedstone, added: “Physical activity is crucial for good physical and mental health of children and young people - this work is a timely reminder for everyone to do more to help them be more active.”
Nick White, MD of UK Standing Desk Manufacturer iwantastandingdesk.com said "Kids are becoming ever more sedentary and inactive, it makes sense to get them more active in the classroom and create a positive behaviour pattern to take into adulthood...entire schools in the US are becoming all standing with a view to seeding a culture of good health. This can only lead to happier, healthier children."
Given the recent reports that children’s lifespans are estimated to be 5 years shorter due to sedentary habits. The Sport England Survey encouragingly does demonstrate that 3 million children are getting enough activity, exceeding 60 mins a day but the Sports Minister Mims Davies says "the number of young people who are not doing enough is simply unacceptable...we must build a comprehensive and cross Government offer to create a truly active nation."
The biggest takeaway from the survey available here is that children benefit from activity. Their general happiness increases. Their mental health improves and as our recent report detailed they outperform inactive children. We owe it to all our children to raise the bar and get the UK up to speed when it comes to activity at home and in the class room.
Eiger Standing Desk School Trials Are Available Here