Minister speaks of struggle parents face to get SEND provision on visit to Redbridge

Parents of children with special needs in Redbridge should not have to “fight the system” to get the right support, a government minister has said.

During a visit to the borough on February 21, minister for children and families Will Quince MP said he wanted to see more money “downstream,” to get children support earlier.

Mr Quince praised the work being done at Redbridge Alternative Provision, which supports students excluded from mainstream education, including those with SEND needs.

He said more money should be invested in getting parents help earlier on, to avoid council’s having to pay more later.

He said: “No parent should have to fight the system for support they need. At the heart of this for SEND children is getting the mainstream right.

“You want as few people coming to places like this as possible, and if you are excluded from school you shouldn’t be excluded in any way from education.”

A national review of SEND policies is due to be released three years after it was first announced, a wait that Mr Quince has admitted is “too long”.

According to a draft of the council’s SEND strategy for the next three years, there is a higher than average need for speech and language therapy and level of children with learning difficulties in the borough.

A Redbridge resident said she has to “fight” the council for appropriate support for her grandson, who is autistic.

She said: “You shouldn’t have to but we have to look up the law and battle – then you end up looking aggressive.”

In November last year, a review of special educational needs in the borough recommended 140 new places for pupils with special educational needs between 2018 and 2023.

With 28 special needs places created at Cranbrook and Mayespark Primary School in 2019, the council has now added 77 places since 2018.

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter