Insufficient support for SEND eduction, report warns

A study by The Key has found that delays to assessments, insufficient budgets and cuts to local authorities is hampering schools’ ability to support special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) pupils.

The research involved surveying 1,100 school leaders, the results of which suggested that 82 per cent of mainstream schools in England do not have sufficient funding to adequately provide for pupils with SEND; 89 per cent of school leaders believe cuts to local authority services have had a detrimental impact on the support their school receives for pupils with SEND; three-quarters of schools have pupils who have been waiting longer than expected for assessment of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan; and 88 per cent of school leaders think initial teacher training does not adequately prepare teachers to support pupils with SEND.

According to statistics published by the Department for Education, (DfE) there were over 1.3 million children in England identified as having SEND requirements.

The survey suggested that primary schools were under significant strain with regard to providing SEND support, with 80 per cent of primary school leaders claiming their budget were insufficient. Furthermore, 80 per cent of primary schools said they had waited longer than expected for EHCPs.

Fergal Roche, chief executive of The Key, said: "A year on from major reforms to the national system for SEND provision, these findings represent an important wake-up call from school leaders.

"Schools need adequate funding and a holistic, well co-ordinated and resourced system of support behind them to provide effectively for children with SEND."

Councillor Roy Perry, chairman of the Local Government Association's children and young people board, said: "We were clear with the DfE at the time that implementing the SEND reforms in the Children and Families Bill was significantly underfunded by the government and this has been borne out in reality.

"Councils are working hard to ensure all children and young people are being moved from SEND statements to EHCP by the deadline of 31 March 2018, but the transition process is complex."

The DfE spokesman said: "Schools have a vital role to play in this work, which is why we've protected the overall school budget and increased the funding for children and young people with high needs by over £90m this year.

"Ensuring teachers are trained to have an understanding of the needs of pupils with SEND is a key part of our drive to give all children access to the education they deserve."

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