Kemi Badenoch, the MP for Saffron Walden, has been appointed the new minister for children and families, as part of Boris Johnson’s government reshuffle. She replaces Nadhim Zahawi, who held the role for 18 months and has now moved to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The role of children and families minister includes special educational needs, high needs funding, safeguarding, disadvantaged learners, and social mobility and opportunity areas. Kemi Badenoch will be faced with some immediate challenges, with high needs funding reaching crisis point and an increasingly adversarial system resulting in many of the ambitions of the Children and Families Act not being realised.
Clare Howard, Natspec CEO, welcomed the new Minister to her role:
“We congratulate Kemi Badenoch MP on her new role, and have written to invite her to visit one of our colleges and see first hand how a good quality further education experience for students with SEND can transform lives.
“The Local Government Association has concluded that further education for students aged 16+ and 19+ is the single biggest strain on local high needs budgets, and it is now urgent that this is addressed through strategic regional and national investment rather than continuing to hope for 150 different local solutions. There have been several calls for evidence and reviews since the SEND reforms were introduced in 2014, including the 2016 and 2017 high needs funding consultations, the Lenehan review of specialist schools and colleges, the Education Select Committee Inquiry into SEND, and the current DfE Call for Evidence into high needs funding.
“The time for further review is over, and I urge the new minister to act quickly to resolve the issues created by the localised system for assessment and funding. Natspec’s recommendations include saving resources through joint working and economies of scale rather than duplicating provision, and urgent re-investment into workforce development and centres of specialist expertise for FE. We also ask for guidance to local authorities on universal post-school provision at local level, closing the funding gap between schools and colleges to address the huge administrative burden placed on colleges who deal with multiple local areas, and a mechanism to plan for and fund places for those young people who require highly specialist provision that it is not efficient to replicate in every local area.”