Online school flooded with calls from parents with vulnerable SEND children who are being failed by the system

An online independent school has been re-introducing vulnerable children into school with SEND (Special Education Needs and Disabilities) who have lost confidence and have been failed by the system in their quest for adequate provision for their learning and development needs.  Many families have been pushed to crisis point and according to Ofsted, some have been waiting for more than two years to obtain any support. As a result, rising numbers of parents have contacted Minerva’s Virtual Academy over the last month for guidance and support around re-introducing their children into education.

Lawrence Tubb, Headmaster at Minerva’s Virtual Academy commented, “Many of the families we speak to have children with severe SEND issues including autism, which can affect a child’s capacity for learning in multiple ways.  Several of our pupils have had their confidence knocked via the system and have struggled to fit in, adapt and progress in their schools. The pandemic has of course, not helped matters.  The reality is, many families have been unable to access appropriate support and care or have experienced delays in obtaining a medical diagnosis, which means they are left to battle in the interim with little or no learning provision.” 

According to official government data there are more than 160,000 autistic pupils in schools across England, of whom 70% are in mainstream schools, while the rest are either receiving specialist education, are home educated or are out of education altogether. 

Mr Tubb added, “One of our newer parents has been fighting to access appropriate support for her autistic son via her local authority, for some time and has just enrolled him at The Academy.  Her child has severe SEND issues and like many other autistic children, he struggles to cope with things that don’t have an immediate purpose to his future outcomes.  Her family has been let down on numerous occasions by the system but since her son started being educated from home, he is coping much better. Being able to learn in the comfort of his own home and at his own pace, has been a real game changer for this child.”

Ofsted also found exclusions of SEND pupils were “too high”. A need to save money at the council also meant specialist equipment was not forthcoming leaving provision for children “compromised”.

“Providing personal, one to one mentoring sessions for all pupils as well as regular wellbeing sessions to support learning and mental health is vital across the board at the moment. Too many children have been impacted negatively in terms of their schooling over the last year or so, and it is incredibly disappointing to hear that so many families with children with special educational needs are struggling to access the provision they need,” said Mr Tubb.

Minerva’s Virtual Academy is an affordable, online independent school, for pupils aged 12 to 18 years.  With its outstanding virtual learning platform, specialist teaching community and commitment to pastoral care, the Academy combines the best of private education with 21st Century home schooling. With a spirit of community at its core, pupils attend live, interactive lessons with specialist subject teachers, in a virtual classroom environment where they are encouraged to apply their learning and work collaboratively with peers. The school also delivers weekly assemblies online, a range of extra-curricular activities, wellbeing sessions and one to one mentoring, as well as optional in-person meet ups and whole school events.  Fostering the development of self-study skills, pupils are empowered to work at their own pace and schedule, nurturing a culture of resilience and self-reliance, while equipping them to succeed and flourish in an increasingly global and technologically driven world.

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