Harlow MP Robert Halfon calls Labour’s Chris Vince “woefully misinformed”

News / Wed 13th Sep 2023 at 09:09am

HARLOW MP has called comments by Labour’s parliamentary candidate Chris Vince on special educational needs, as “woefully misinformed”.

Mr Halfon has written a letter to YH.


Dear Editor, 

I am writing in response to the Labour representative’s woefully misinformed interview with Your Harlow published yesterday. 

Yet again the Labour Party seem intent on weaponising children and parents, even going so far as to use Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) as a way to generate erroneous headlines. 

As Harlow’s first disabled MP I have spent many years trying to support Harlow children with SEND and when I was Chair of the Education Select Committee I led a groundbreaking report on SEND, some recommendations of which were adopted by the Government. Fair-minded readers can see the report here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201919/cmselect/cmeduc/20/20.pdf

I recognise that there are enormous pressures on families with SEND children and young people and that much needs to be done and, crucially, is being done. But it is still important to correct misleading and inaccurate information purely used to arouse anger in Harlow.

I can reassure readers with absolute certainty that the Department for Education (DfE) has not provided any local authorities either nationally or locally with targets to reduce provisions in the Economic, Health and Care Plans (ECHP) of those children and young people with SEND. 

In fact, this Conservative Government’s investment into the high-need budget has risen by over 60% since 2019 to £10.5 billion, including an increase of £440 million next year. 

As part of the Government’s critical work to help improve SEND services, the Department is prioritising increasing assistance to better meet the needs of children and young people, as well as their families. 

The measures to improve SEND provision include: 

• Establishing a single national system that delivers for every child and young person with SEND so that they enjoy their childhood, achieve good outcomes, and are well prepared for adulthood and employment. 

• Giving families greater confidence that their child will be able to fulfil their potential through improved mainstream provision in their local setting. 

• For those children and young people with SEND who do require an EHCP and specialist provision, ensuring they get access to the support they need, and that parents do not have to wade through a treacle of unkind bureaucracy.

• Establishing a standardised EHCP process which makes greater use of digital technology so there is less of a battle to get the support children and young people need, and families can have confidence that the system works.

• Strengthening accountability across the system so that everyone is held to account for supporting children and young people with SEND. 

• Creating more special school places. Since March we have approved an additional 41 special free schools. Once complete, this investment will almost double the number of special free school places available across the country – from around 8,500 to 19,000 – ensuring all children receive a quality education, tailored to their needs.

I am working hard to ensure that children and young people with SEND are cared for educationally, mentally, physically and financially in order to guarantee that every child, regardless of their circumstances, gets the best start in life. I wonder if the Labour representative has conveniently forgotten the fact that a brand new special school – the Greenwell Academy – opened in Harlow just last week. 

I have spent my whole career championing education and skills. I have visited every school in Harlow on numerous occasions over thirteen years and I have worked with the incredible principals, staff and parents of the whole school community to support them however I can. I have, and will always, continue to support children and young people with SEND.

I would recommend that the next time the Labour Party try and seek cheap political headlines in Your Harlow, instead of copying and pasting inaccurate articles from newspapers, they actually get their facts right. 

Yours sincerely, 

Robert Halfon

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12 Comments for Harlow MP Robert Halfon calls Labour’s Chris Vince “woefully misinformed”:

2023-09-13 09:30:57

TLDR... You and your party are still despicable however you try to sugarcoat it, only care about yourself and your rich buddies. The sooner the Conservative Party are out of power the better.

gary roberts
2023-09-13 09:50:52

"I am working hard to ensure that children and young people with SEND are cared for educationally, mentally, physically and financially in order to guarantee that every child, regardless of their circumstances, gets the best start in life." So not working hard enough then if after 13 years SEND young people are still not receiving the educationally needs they deserve. Must be that 2010 note in the Treasury holding you back!

2023-09-13 11:11:23

To think that making every teacher a SEND teacher and therefore responsible for providing a "SEND" service as well as teaching a classroom of 30 plus children, often with several children and their support person present and to assert this was ever a solution is a niave fantasy and is perhaps one of the main factors that is leading to the overload of a system that is no longer fit for purpose. Teaching and learning and particularly SEND, aren't facilitated by a batch production system that works on clockwork lines and changing classroom at the ringing of bells every 45 minutes. More and more responsibilities are loaded on teachers generally and incorporating SEND as yet another layer of preparation of lessons, teaching lessons, marking, meetings and assessment just adds to the long list of causes burnout as teachers leave the profession. It doesn't serve students well, least of all SEND students. UK schools are stuck in the past and money is wasted again and again trying to push the train down a broken track. The current SEND strategy closed many special centres and was designed to save money, making everyone a send teacher meant too few experienced send teachers: because everyone became responsible too few were send trained.

2023-09-13 12:40:40

Who are you going to believe? MP Halfon member of the Conservative lying party, or anyone else? I work on schools, I know SEND has been decimated during 13 years of Conservative rule.

2023-09-13 13:12:14

HALF-ON has got some nerve.... who is he?

Alex K
2023-09-13 14:03:39

The Tory MP attacks Labour for their attempt to “try and sneak” cheap political headlines (both synonyms by the way, clumsy political communication) whilst, let me get this right, scoring cheap political headlines through calling CV “woefully misinformed?” Labour can criticise Tories and vice versa, that is the nature of debate, at least have the front to own up to it instead of acting holier than thou. Poor performance Rob, poor performance.

2023-09-13 16:52:20

Is this the same Robert Halfon MP that voted for the sewage to be released in to our rivers and sea? I think it is

2023-09-13 18:03:17

Yes, this is the same Robert Halfon MP that advocated for a windfall tax against energy companies, then failed to vote for a windfall tax against energy companies. I'm sure that if Chris were to re-read the Guardian/Observer article again, and get into the mindset that somehow thinks that the Liz The Lettuce Budget is brilliant, and gives many, many, one last chances to Boris the Convict, he will realise that "targeting at least a 20% reduction in new EHCPs issued" isn't actually "targeting at least a 20% reduction in new EHCPs issued" but means something else entirely. Maybe it also means that the didn't Tories put children at risk by pursuing their free schools obsession. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/sep/12/tories-children-government-spending-money-building-free-schools

2023-09-13 21:48:08

EHCP - Education health care plan - not economic.

David Forman
2023-09-13 22:39:04

Robert Halfon should answer two points in his Education Select Committee report from 2019, in relation to inadequate SEND funding. Paragraph 8 says "(Government to) increase high needs funding for special educational needs and disabilities to address a projected deficit of at least £1.2 billion..." Para 9 says: "we are not convinced about the extent to which this announcement alone will tackle the funding challenges for support for children and young people with SEND." The link to this select committee report is in Halfon's letter above.

David Forman
2023-09-13 23:09:53

Also, Halfon's quoted select committee report says in paragraph 14: "In September 2019, the National Audit Office (NAO) published its report 'Support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in England'. It found that "the Department (for Education) does not know the impact of the support that is given to children with SEND, and that while the Department has increased school funding, it has not kept up with the increase in pupil numbers." Key Facts section of that NAO report states a "2.6% real-terms reduction in funding for each pupil with high needs between 2013-14 and 2017-18." Of equal concern in Key Facts is "44.9% proportion of permanent exclusions involving children with SEND in 2017/18." See pages 4 and 7 in NAO report at https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Support-for-pupils-with-special-education-needs.pdf

Daniella smith
2023-09-14 19:32:16

My child haa ADHD but masks in school. Camhs refused to assess her now going through right to choose its taken us 6 years and they had 400 applications in March for people wanting children assessments. The system is broken. If we do not get assessments for all that suspect/a list of private assessors under £500 that parents can use and recognised by nhs then children will be failed by the system and either turn to violence, addiction, crime, depresssion or unemployed. The govt will then pay out far more than up front as kids whi can be nurtured and get jobs paying taxes.

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