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Government reforms and austerity measures are endangering the education of young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), says a new report published today (Monday) by the TUC.

30 March 2015

Government reforms and austerity measures are endangering the education of young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), says a new report published today (Monday) by the TUC.

The report Disabled Workers and Students in Education also says that reforms have reversed progress being made towards an educational system that welcomes and respects disabled staff.

The TUC report looks first at the experience of disabled teaching staff in the UK and then at the effects of various changes to the SEND system. Responses from trade union surveys illustrate the points raised by the report.

The study identifies a number of key reasons for the decline in progress in the area of SEND:

  • Discrimination against disabled staff members (77 per cent of disabled NASUWT members reported facing discrimination).
  • Increasing workloads leading to rising stress levels among staff (surveys suggest that 60-hour weeks are common).
  • Local authority funding cuts leading to reduced SEND services (local authority funding dropped by more than 40 per cent between 2010 and 2015).
  • Regular changes to the curriculum (71 per cent of NUT members believe the curriculum does not meet the needs of pupils with SEND).
  • Abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance in 2011 (pupils with SEND were more likely to be eligible for this post-16 education funding).

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“It is clear that the government’s austerity policy is jeopardising the educational opportunities for young people with special needs and disabilities.

“And it’s not just the students that are suffering. Disabled teachers are facing discrimination and soaring stress levels as a result of the government’s continuous changes to the structure of the school system and the curriculum.” 

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- Union survey 2014 information supplied by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the University and College Union (UCU) and the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT)

- The report Disabled Workers and Students in Education is available at: https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Disabledworkersandstudentsineducation.docx

- There are 1.5 million pupils across the UK with SEND, which accounts for 18 per cent of the total school population

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @tucnews

Contacts:

Media enquiries:

Clare Santry  T: 020 7467 1372  M: 07717 531150  E: csantry@tuc.org.uk
Alex Rossiter  T: 020 7467 1285  M: 07887 572130  E: arossiter@tuc.org.uk
Tim Nichols  T: 020 7467 1337  M: 07876 452902  E: tnichols@tuc.org.uk
Kay Atwal  T: 020 7467 1385  M: 07941 547469  E: katwal@tuc.org.uk