Schools facing ‘unexplained surge’ in pupils requiring special educational needs, MP says

Schools are facing an “unexplained surge” in pupils with special needs and disabilities – with some claiming advances in medicine are having a “knock-on impact” on the education system, an MP said.

Tory MP Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) said schools are coming under pressure from a rise in children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send).

He said, while he would welcome more additional funding, the Queen’s Speech will bring “funding justice” to schools facing difficulties.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Chalk said: “For reasons which are poorly understood frankly, schools and teachers in my constituency have done an extraordinary job in dealing with an unexplained surge in pupil complexity.”

He added: “The truth is they are having to address need which was far beyond that which existed only 15 years ago.”

Mr Chalk said mainstream schools are currently having to work to avoid putting “intolerable pressure” on special schools.

He said: “And if you go into the mainstream school as well, they are having to hold on, as it were, by their fingertips to children who in the past would have gone into special schools.

“But they are doing so because they recognise if they were to, as it were, put that child into different accommodation, a different educational setting, that that could place intolerable pressure on those special schools. So they are doing a magnificent job.”

Mr Chalk told the Commons it is not clear what has caused the increase in demand, but said some people have claimed medical advances are having a “knock-on impact” on the education system.

He said: “Now the reasons for it are poorly understood. Some say that it’s to do with social, family issues.

“Some people say, and this is a very difficult point to make and I don’t know whether there is any truth to it, that because of the marvels of modern medicine, frankly there are some children surviving childbirth who might not otherwise do so in the past.

“And thank goodness that’s the case, but it is potentially having a knock-on impact.”

Mr Chalk said the Government is addressing the need for better funding and support.

He said: “Of course there is more to do. Of course I would like more funding, of course I would like all sorts of additional things.”

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