The Children’s Commissioner’s Help at Hand service offers advice and assistance to children in care, children working with social services, children living away from home, and care leavers.
Most children will be enjoying their Easter holidays today after a busy spring term, however, in the last few months Help at Hand has heard from many children in care that did not attend school at all last term. Many of these children have some kind of special educational need. They tell us they are bored and lonely and want to be in school. This is just one example we have had in the spring term:
Lily* lives in a children’s home out of the Local Authority that has parental responsibility for her. Lily is bright and loves to learn but has struggled in mainstream education for a long time. She has social and emotional special needs and finds being in a large classroom difficult. Her school did try and accommodate her but said it couldn’t provide the small classroom size that she needed to do. Lily has been out of school for several months now. She has been offered some online tutoring that she struggles to engage with and she and her children’s home says is of a poor quality. All the local state schools have said that they cannot meet Lily’s needs. There is one fee paying special school that Lily has been to see and loved. There is now an ongoing dispute between the authority Lily lives in and the authority that has parental responsibility over who pays for this. In the meantime Lily remains out of school. The Children’s Commissioner has written to both authorities to stand up for Lily’s right to be in school and we wait to hear whether she will be starting the summer term in a school like her peers.
*Identifying details have been changed to protect anonymity of children.