Mansfield MP vows to get better deal for special needs school pupils

With Brexit so fluid and the situation changing every day in recent weeks, it’s actually impossible for me to write about it days in advance for this week’s column, writes Ben Bradley MP.

Instead I wanted to raise some of the other work I’m doing in Parliament through the Education Select Committee.

Ben Bradley MP

Ben Bradley MP

Since joining the committee, I’ve enjoyed digging in to important issues in great detail, including automation and artificial intelligence and how it will affect jobs in the future.

The subject of our current inquiry is a serious one, and one that causes huge problems for many people in Mansfield.

Having looked at school exclusions, we’re now looking at Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) funding.

Over 10 weeks, the cross-party committee will hear from witnesses and examine written evidence, whilst I’ve also met with local schools, residents and the council to find out the situation locally.

The truth is there are big problems here, some funding related, but also with the way things are allocated and administered.

On the committee, we’ve heard that parents of SEND children find themselves ‘battling’ with councils, and that agencies are not always responsive.

We’ve heard the funding challenges that impact on schools and their core budgets.

We’ve also heard how services can be a postcode lottery, and the funding formula means money per pupil varies hugely across different areas.

This obviously isn’t good enough, and as somebody with a passion for education (prior to becoming an MP I wanted to be a teacher) I want to ensure Government responds to this problem as soon as possible.

The committee will report in the new year and call on Ministers for action.

And I’ll hold their feet to the fire to ensure that local kids with special educational needs get the very best support.