Northumberland Labour outlines plan to cut travel for SEND pupils

A member of Northumberland County Council’s shadow cabinet has backed a policy she hopes will put an end to young people with disabilities forced to travel miles away from home for education.

By James Robinson
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 12:44 pm

Coun Angie Scott, shadow cabinet member for children’s services, has welcomed the news Northumberland Labour has committed to investment in ‘specialist hubs’ in the event they take control of the council.

In its manifesto for last year’s local elections, the party explained that the policy would make sure provision was available to families across Northumberland, in a bid to avoid costly out-of-county placements and additional stress on families.

Leader Scott Dickinson has confirmed the work would continue if Labour became the largest party in 2025.

Northumberland Labour leader Scott Dickinson with Coun Angie Scott.

Coun Scott, who herself has a child with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) welcomed the news.

She said: “The purpose of the hubs is to provide opportunity for children with complex SEND to be included in a mainstream environment alongside their peers. Therefore the ‘hubs’ are adapted classrooms within the school buildings.

“The ethos of the hubs is for the children who attend them, to be included within mainstream activities as far as possible. How much time a child spends in the ‘hub’ as opposed to a mainstream class will be dependent upon the child’s needs and their response to inclusion opportunities.

“The council has inequalities as a key priority, but they need to look at where our SEND kids are going to school. If a child has to travel, they’re not included or known in their own communities.

“SEND children from Prudhoe, from the age they start school, have to travel to Morpeth and Blyth. My son had to travel to Collingwood School every day.

“They are expected to travel miles. Something needs to be done.”

Supporting Coun Scott’s comments, Coun Dickinson added: “The Labour Party started change on SEND services back in 2015 recognising the need of the young people and their families. We have always advocated for better SEND services that prevent long displacing travel and prevent young people from opportunities to flourish in their own communities.

“The current arrangements do not support young people’s needs nor the families themselves.”

Northumberland County Council has been contacted for comment.