One of the parts of being an MP that I enjoy the most is going out and visiting our local schools. I will never cease to be impressed by the commitment and dedication of all our local schools and the work they do to give the next generation the best possible start in life. One of the areas that is most impressive is our schools work with children with special educational needs and disabilities as these are children that need more focus and attention to ensure that they are given the same opportunities as others.
In a peninsula like Cornwall, there will always be challenges with resources as we do not have counties surrounding us that can support our services in the same way as others. The pandemic has also brought a new set of challenges and increased the demand for services. I have always argued that one of the biggest long-term effects of Covid will be the isolation from the various lockdowns. Humans are social creatures. The closure of schools has had far-reaching effects beyond academic disruption. Friendships were strained, celebrations and events were put on hold, and the invaluable social interactions that are crucial for growth and development were limited. It is important to focus on providing additional support to those children and young people most affected and to help them recover from the emotional and social impact of the lockdown.
However, It is a testament to the wonderful creative thinking we have in Cornwall that our schools continue to deal with countless challenges that are not found elsewhere in the country. Yet we still need to do more to support them.
Cornwall is actually one of the areas at the moment that suffers from a disparity of SEND funding, called F40 a group that represents 42 of the most underfunded local authorities nationally. Cornwall Council believe that next year there will be a £21 million deficit in their budget next year, an amount that rises to £2.5bn nationally. This must be addressed by the government if we are to ensure that no one is left behind.
As a result, I will be using my last year in parliament to lobby for further funding for these important services. I recently wrote to the Chancellor to raise this matter and will be making the case in the coming months when the House of Commons returns for the autumn statement. I firmly believe that we must give all children the best possible start in life, and this means making sure our hard-working teachers and support staff are given increased funding to continue doing their brilliant and life-changing work.