Strike banner with the phrase close the SEND funding gap
Banner from the 9th December rally.

On the 9th December 2020, National Education Union (NEU) members from the London borough of Tower Hamlets went on strike against proposed cuts to support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Holding both a physical rally in the morning and a digital rally later the same day, staff made clear their opposition to these cuts to SEND provision.

The council plans to cut £650,000 from the SEND budget. This would mean removing nearly half the posts from the borough’s specialist Support for Learning Service (SLS). This would see reductions in staff from the Visually Impaired team, the Deaf and Partially Hearing team, and the complete replacement of other teams. As a result of this, the NEU argue the SLS would be unable to engage in regular direct work with pupils. Instead, Tower Hamlets NEU argue they would only able to act in an advisory capacity around SEND.

In a statement Tower Hamlets NEU stated:

‘Schools will be responsible for meeting the needs of growing numbers of high needs pupils but with a drastic reduction in specialist assessments, training and expertise. These cuts will have a devastating impact on children, families and schools, at a time when they need it most – during a pandemic. Pupils with SEND have been hit hardest by Covid: these cuts will only deepen inequalities.’

This latest strike reflects rising opposition to Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs and the Labour-led Tower Hamlets council’s efforts to push cuts across their borough. In July, UNISON union members across all departments of Tower Hamlets Council went on several days of strike action in opposition to new contracts many felt were being forced on them.

Tower Hamlets NEU are encouraging supporters to sign their petition and send any messages of support to