Advertiser letters: Special needs funding cuts and internet crime

PUBLISHED: 08:30 03 February 2019

Tower Hamlets is considering cutting Support for Learning budget.

Tower Hamlets is considering cutting Support for Learning budget.

Mike Brooke

Letters, contributions and comments sent in to the Advertiser this week.

Funding cuts will hit hard

A Tower Hamlets teacher, full name and address supplied, writes:

As a teacher and National Education Union member in Tower Hamlets schools for the last 15 years, I was alarmed to read in the minutes of the December 5 Schools Forum meeting that Tower Hamlets council is considering a cut of £1m in the Support for Learning Service (SLS) budget in response to a projected overspend of £2.9m in the High Needs Block budget– a grant from central government for children with special needs. The proposed cut would amount to a reduction of more than 40 per cent in the SLS budget.

This would be a further blow to families of children with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) after ‘all council-run nurseries to close despite objections from 35,000 people and the town hall’s OWN councillors’, November 2, 2018.

The SLS was created 26 years ago to ensure that children with significant sensory, physical and learning needs could be fully included in their local mainstream school rather than being sent to special placements far from home and at great cost, both social and financial.

Many of the deaf and disabled children who benefitted from the early identification of their needs, specialist assessment and support at the LADNs, have gone on to thrive in local schools with help from the SLS.

The work of specialist teachers in the service ranges from supporting families of babies with a diagnosed hearing or visual impairment to advising schools on how to prepare for pupils with a range of diagnosed conditions including childhood cancers, degenerative and life-limiting conditions.

Pupils with language and communication difficulties and dyslexia are assessed by SLS staff and training is provided for their teachers and teaching assistants.

The specialist teachers’ core work ensures that some of the most vulnerable children in the borough gain admission to school and have ongoing access to education and technologies to support them. A cut to funding would represent a blow to inclusion.

The needs of some pupils are likely to be identified later, resulting in more acute difficulties in school, a greater need for more expensive intervention.

The minutes of the Schools Forum can be found here.

Protect children online

Des Mannion, regional head of service for London and the South East, NSPCC, writes:

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics highlight how child sex offenders are increasingly exploiting the web to commit crimes such as rape, sexual assault and grooming.

Across England and Wales last year there were 9,543 recorded crimes where the offender contacted their victim on the internet.

Cyber-related crimes made up 16 per cent of the total number of child sexual offences recorded between September 2017 and September 2018.

Our #WildWestWeb campaign is calling for an independent regulator with the power to investigate and fine social networks if they fall short in protecting children.

We urge the public to sign our petition and help make this a reality. Please support the NSPCC’s Wild West Web campaign by signing the petition now.

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