Council Leader speaks out about education for disabled children

Council Leader Julie DoreCouncil Leader Julie Dore
Council Leader Julie Dore
Education for disabled children needs looking at closely, says the leader of Sheffield Council.

The council recently held a consultation on special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) after an inspection last November found seven areas of significant weakness. Parents and support groups have also highlighted a number of problems.

The council is now working on a strategy which will improve services for SEND children over the next five years.

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Council Leader Julie Dore said the consultation was an opportunity for people to raise awareness of some of the issues facing their family.

“As a parent myself I would expect any parent to demand what they believe is right for their child. We are working with parents to understand the options and constraints so we can get the best solution for everybody.

“I want the best for their child as much as they do. Show me a child with a disability and I will show you a family with a disability because that whole family is dealing with it and affected by it.”

Coun Dore said she would like to see more mainstream schools have integrated units for SEND children.

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“At primary age, every child should be able to go to their primary school as far as possible but I would like more integrated units.

“What do we do as a city and as a society to enable more integration for disabled children when they leave school? If they have been in special school it can be like falling off a cliff when they turn 18 and they come into the real world after being completely protected.”

A scrutiny board recently said it wanted proof from officers that progress was being made with SEND.

Coun Dore added: “There’s things I believe should be done, but are not being done, because of funding, such as adaptations and support for individual children.

“We have strengths but we also have weaknesses. Some of this will require more government funding but there are also things we can do as a council to address some of this.”