Government austerity measures are endangering the education of students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), according to a new report.
The report – Disabled Workers and Students in Education – from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) found that reforms are reversing the progress made toward creating an educational system that works for disabled staff and pupils.
TUC looked at the experiences of disabled teaching staff and the effects of changes to the SEND system.
According to the findings, 77% of disabled NASUWT members have experienced discrimination at work and 71% of NUT (National Union of Teachers) members said the national curriculum does not meet the needs of pupils with SEND.
The survey also suggests that some teachers are working up to 60-hours a week, leading to an increase in stress among staff.
Local authority funding cuts of more than 40% between 2010 and 2015 has led to a reduction in SEND services and the abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance has had a detrimental impact on pupils with SEND.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“It is clear that the government’s austerity policy is jeopardising the educational opportunities for young people with special needs and disabilities.
“And it’s not just the students that are suffering. Disabled teachers are facing discrimination and soaring stress levels as a result of the government’s continuous changes to the structure of the school system and the curriculum.”
There are 1.5 million pupils across the UK with SEND, which accounts for 18% of all school pupils.
According to available figures disabled people are more likely to be in employment than they were in 2002. However, the employment gap between disabled people and non-disabled people remains stubbornly high.
In 2012, 46.3% of working-age disabled people were in employment compared to 76.4% of working-age non-disabled people.
Any suggestion that disabled students are not receiving the same level of education as their able-bodied counterparts is likely infuriate equality campaigners.
It could also thwart the next government’s attempts to get more disabled young people into work.