Ipswich MP's plea to help children with special needs after lockdown

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt is pleased to see an end to the national lockdown - but warned: 'This isn't the end of the struggle.' Pic...

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said there 'needs to be a real focus on those with special educational needs and how we can help them' - Credit: Archant

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has called for a "real focus" on helping children with special educational needs who may have struggled during lockdown to catch up on their learning.

The Conservative, who himself has dyslexia and dyspraxia, said his own experiences with learning difficulties in school meant he could empathise with how difficult online learning has been for many.

Many young people with education, health and care (EHC) plans have attended school in person during the third national lockdown.

Speaking in parliament, Mr Hunt said there was a need to ensure that "particular attention is paid to those with special educational needs" as part of education catch-up plans.

"Part of the catch-up strategy needs to be a real focus on those with special educational needs and how we can help them," he told the House of Commons.


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However, he also said that focus should be on "not only those who have been eligible to come into school and who have an EHC plan but those who have dyslexia or dyspraxia and have been severely negatively impacted by the closure of schools".

"All children have been affected to some extent," Mr Hunt, who was elected to the House of Commons in 2019, said afterwards.

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"However, working remotely will have a disproportionate impact on those people.

"A lot of people with dyspraxia really struggle doing things online.

"I do - I struggle doing things online.

"Because we learn things in a different way, we really do need to have a level of engagement with teachers which might not be required for others pupils.

"We process information differently and have different ways of working.

"Even the cancellation of exams can have an impact.

"I used to struggle in a classroom setting. I wouldn't have liked to have been judged on my classroom performance.

"The exam gave me an opportunity to process information in my own way and then pull a rabbit out of the hat. I wouldn't have that opportunity now.

"There needs to be specific attention paid to the different ways in which it's affected pupils with special educational needs."

Mr Hunt has spoken openly about his difficulties with reading and writing in his youth, telling this newspaper in an interview: "I felt when I was younger, frankly I felt like I was thick, that I might not be successful.

"I couldn't understand why it took me so much longer to understand things and process things."

He has joined the House of Commons' education select committee, with a personal mission to "give schools the support they need to provide first-class SEN".

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