Disability History Month: Three Ways Cuts to Education have Affected Disabled Students
This month, starting 18th November and finishing 20th December, it is UK Disability History Month, and today is in fact the International Day of Disabled Persons. This article is the first instalment in the UK Disability History Month, and will explore access to education for individuals who are disabled, and the barriers that they face.
Barriers that restrict access to education
1. Lack of funding to schools
Since the Tories took power in 2010, their austerity agenda has had an effect on all aspects on society, including education. Under the Conservatives we have seen education suffer the biggest spending fall since the 1970s. The harsh reality of these cuts has meant schools making difficult decisions to the detriment of those they are meant to be supporting, educating and protecting. For example, many headteachers of mainstream schools have been forced to turn away SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) students due to not being able to afford the extra costs of having them attend the school. This has in turn increased the strain on SEND schools, who are expected to provide extra places due to the sharp rise in demand. In order to attend a SEND school, the student must have an Education, Health and Care plan and those who are not eligible and are not being accepted into mainstream school will be forced to be home schooled. The difficulties in getting an EHCP for a student in need can be seen in the fact Worcestershire County Council implemented the rule that students had to have failed for at least two terms in order to be granted one. These sorts of barriers leave students falling behind at school where they are unable to reach their academic potential.
2. Lack of funding to SEND schools
It is evident that, due to local council cuts by the government in the last 10 years, some councils are struggling to cope with the number of SEND students. This has led to thousands of students out of school. For those who are lucky enough to get a place at a SEND school, almost 20,000 of those students are having to attend a school outside of their council area, with some having to travel up to 100 miles to get access to education. This has led to more of these students having to use public transport to get to school, which is a barrier that disabled people already face (we will discuss this further in a future article).
3. Lack of training for teachers to learn how to teach SEND students.
Due to the decrease in funding for the education sector, teachers are not being provided access to the vital training needed to teach SEND students to a higher standard. Without the access to this training, many teachers won’t have the required skills to help develop SEND students who require extra support. The lack of training has led to teachers rating SEND as one of the poorest aspects of their teacher training.
It is very clear that the Conservatives do not care whether disabled people can have access to an education that can help them reach their academic potential. This is another example of this government only caring about the few and ensuring that everyone else has only limited chances of succeeding in life.