Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to end ‘postcode lottery’ of provision for SEND children at launch of Conservative manifesto at Silverstone

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The conservative manifesto was launched on Tuesday from the Silverstone race circuit.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to end the ‘postcode lottery’ of provision for children with special educational needs as he launched the conservative manifesto on Tuesday, June 11 from the Silverstone race circuit in Northamptonshire.

Mr Sunak said there was “nowhere better” than the home of the Grand Prix to mark the fact that the economy had “turned a corner” and that the successful motorsport represented all of the country’s “strengths coming together”.

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The question surrounding special educational needs provision is at the forefront of issues within the county as North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) recently received a damning report on their services and the West (WNC) shared their fears that it was ‘too early’ to achieve good results in their routine inspection.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set out his party's manifesto at the Silverstone racing circuit in Northamptonshire. (Image: Nadia Lincoln LDRS)Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set out his party's manifesto at the Silverstone racing circuit in Northamptonshire. (Image: Nadia Lincoln LDRS)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set out his party's manifesto at the Silverstone racing circuit in Northamptonshire. (Image: Nadia Lincoln LDRS)

The trend of increased demand in the special educational needs sector and a system struggling to meet the needs has also been reflected nationally, indicating a system in ‘crisis’.

In a question posed to the PM by the county’s Local Democracy Reporter, Mr Sunak was asked why families had been “let down for so long” and what a Conservative government would do to help them receive proper education.

The Prime Minister replied: “We want to make sure children everywhere, regardless of their backgrounds, get all the support and the opportunities they need to live fulfilling and thriving lives.

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“When it comes to SEND in particular, we’ve raised the funding by about 60 percent overall over this parliament.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressing the room full of Conservative MP candidates, councillors and supporters. (Image: Nadia Lincoln LDRS)Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressing the room full of Conservative MP candidates, councillors and supporters. (Image: Nadia Lincoln LDRS)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressing the room full of Conservative MP candidates, councillors and supporters. (Image: Nadia Lincoln LDRS)

“What we’ve talked about in the manifesto is to open many more SEND free schools, which is in the manifesto and funded, because we know that provision needs to increase, and the manifesto makes specific provision for that.

“As I said, this is about making sure children, no matter where they grow up in our society, have all the opportunities to be supported and to thrive, and that will always happen under a Conservative government.”

The Tory manifesto promises to “transform” education for SEND children by delivering 60,000 more school places and a further 15 new free specialist schools across the country. No further information was given on which areas will benefit from this investment or what the criteria would be to apply for such schools.

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Lauren Bunting, co-founder of the West Northants SEND Action Group said: “From my perspective, the 15 free schools across the whole country won’t even scratch the surface. Every local authority probably needs a couple of new schools and that is not even one in every county.

“Sadly, I don’t think any of the major parties have stood up and acknowledged the scale of the crisis. They’re sidelining it and making it a minor issue, and it’s not.

“Look at the numbers being affected, look at the level of impact it has on those families- it’s not some tiny minority issue in any way.”

She also said she was disappointed with the Prime Minister’s comment that making sure that children have the opportunity to “thrive” will “always happen under a Conservative government”.

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Ms Bunting asked: “Where’s he been for the last 14 years? We’ve had Conservatives in power for 14 years and children have not been getting the help and the support they need, it’s quite the opposite.”

“They’ve just made things worse for families.

“This is all he’s done through the whole campaign. The rhetoric has just been ignoring the failings of the past and just keep going ‘we’re going to look to the future’.

“To ignore what these families have gone through and are still going through and not even acknowledge how bad things are- it’s not a good start.”