London's Special Needs timebomb

23 July 2018
  • Over 200,000 children and young people in London have some level of special education need or disability. In the last ten years there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number with high-level needs and the types of need are increasingly complex.[2]
  • London requires thousands of new school places for children with special needs. 
  • There are concerns that the level of funding provided to schools for pupils with high needs is insufficient to provide the quality support they need.

The London Assembly Education Panel report examines the challenges facing children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). The report recommends the Mayor of London:

  • Keep pressure on Government to ensure real terms funding increases per pupil with high needs and the creation of new special schools, where the need is greatest. 
  • Provide more support for young people as they exit the school system and move into the world of work.
  • Support the creation of a dedicated training centre for Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs).
  • Boost the availability of high quality play spaces for children and young people with SEND and fund initiatives to facilitate journeys on public transport.
  • Appoint a SEND champion to promote the views of children and young people with SEND within London Government. 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM, Chair of the Education Panel, said:

“London faces profound challenges regarding Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), in terms of capacity and funding. I’ve witnessed some truly inspiring work being done by nursery staff, teachers, teaching assistants, health professionals, council staff and volunteers, but this sector needs close attention. 

“The Mayor has a critical role to play in addressing the challenges we have found. He needs to up his game and include SEND in his Social Inclusion Strategy. Demand is increasing and what will happen with these children and young people in terms of their future job prospects? Our children deserve better” 

 Follow us @LondonAssembly and take part in the discussion using #AssemblyEdu and #SEND

The report will be launched at Westbourne Park Bus Garage at a ‘Bus Day’ event. A group of young people with special educational needs and disabilities and their parents and carers will meet with bus drivers, who operate buses in their local area. The event aims to make it easier for those with educational needs and disabilities to get around the city and is organised in association with Tower Transit, Transport for London (TfL) and the charity Full of Life.

Date: Monday 23 July
Time: 10:30am-12 noon
Location: Tower Transit 
Address: Westbourne Park Bus Garage, Great Western Road, London, W9 3NW (Location map)
Closest station: Westbourne Park (Circle and Hammersmith Lines)

  • Jennette Arnold OBE AM, Chair of the Education Panel
  • Sue Redmond, Joint Chair, Full of Life Charity


Please notify Lisa Lam in advance on 020 7983 4067 or at [email protected] 

Notes to editors

  1. The report ‘Together: Transforming the lives of children and young people with special education needs and disabilities in London’ is attached. 
  2. Special educational needs in England: January 2017
  3. Jennette Arnold OBE AM, Chair of the Education Panel is available for interview. See contact details below.
  4. Education Panel
  5. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Lam on 020 7983 4607.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer.  Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.