This week’s comments by Conservative Councillor Phil Dew about special educational needs have caused an outcry.

As someone who has spent my career working with SEND children and young people, and now have this responsibility for the county council, I am committed to meeting the needs of children and young people with SEND and I want to stress that that Cllr Dew does not speak for Cumbria County Council and was speaking as an individual.

I am absolutely clear that we have a legal, and more importantly, moral responsibility to ensure that we meet the educational needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

We are committed to inclusion and understand that this has a real positive impact.

There are challenges, not least because of the underfunding of SEND by this government, and our recent inspection showed us that we have to do more to get it right consistently across the county.

But I want to reassure parents and carers that this is a priority for us and we want to work with them to make things better.

Councillor Sue Sanderson

Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning

Cumbria County Council