According to a report by the local government ombudsman, councils are failing to put adequate alternative education in place for the growing numbers of children in England who cannot attend school because of social anxiety.
The report highlights several cases where children have gone months or even years without receiving any form of education due to a lack of provision by councils. In one case, a child with autism was out of school for nearly two years before finally being placed in an independent special school.
This is a major problem that is affecting more and more children and families across England. While some progress has been made in recent years regarding awareness and understanding of social anxiety, much more must be done to ensure that all children have access to the support and education they need.
Regarding special needs kids, the Local Government Association says, “Every child is unique, and no two will have the same requirements from their education.”
The Department for Education states that “all young people should have access to a high-quality alternative provision that meets their needs”.
For example, the Autism Education Trust says, “appropriate education is a fundamental right for all children and young people on the autism spectrum”.
But the ombudsman’s report suggests that too often, councils are not providing proper alternative provisions for children with social anxiety, resulting in them falling behind in their education. This must be addressed urgently to ensure that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
However, the Ombudsman’s report suggests that many councils fail to provide an adequate alternative for children with social anxiety, resulting in missing out on vital education. This must be addressed as a matter of urgency to ensure that all children receive the education they deserve.
In addition to the obvious negative impact on the children’s prospects, this is also detrimental to their mental health and wellbeing. Social anxiety can be very isolating; without proper support, children can suffer from anxiety, depression and other serious mental health problems.
A boy with ADHD and traits of autism became unable to attend school because of high levels of stress and anxiety. The ombudsman found that the council failed to provide him with adequate alternative education and social support between February 2020 and November 2021. The family has been awarded £8,800 in compensation.
King said: “I am pleased Dorset council has readily agreed to the recommendations I have made to put things right in this case. I hope the changes it will make to how it keeps track of children out of school and its services will give other families greater confidence that their child is receiving the education they are entitled to.”
Dorset council has apologised for its failings and is “committed to ensuring that all children and young people receive an education which meets their needs”.
This is a welcome first step, but it is clear that much more needs to be done to support children with social anxiety and ensure they can access the education they need and deserve.
Councils must take their responsibilities seriously and put appropriate alternative education provisions for all children unable to attend mainstream school. This will ensure that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of their circumstances and provide them with the best possible chance for a bright future.
Suppose you are a parent or carer of a child with social anxiety. In that case, several organisations can offer support and advice, including the National Autistic Society and Anxiety UK. You can also find more information on the GOV.UK website.
What else should the government initiate to support those with anxiety? Please leave a comment below.
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