The House of Commons Education Committee has released a damning report on the state of SEND, supporting what we knew already – young people are being failed by a broken and unlawful system.
The report highlights the disparity between children’s needs and SEND provision, something DYT has campaigned to change in every school across the country. “The significant funding shortfall is a serious contributory factor to the failure on the part of all involved to deliver on the SEND reforms and meet children’s needs,” the report says. “Ultimately, however, unless we see a culture change, within schools and local authorities and the Government, any additional money will be wasted and make little difference to their lives.”
These findings ring true with our own experience; we see schools struggling to meet the needs of pupils on SEN support. The report concludes this is an ineffective area which is exacerbated by wider issues in the SEND system. For example, the impact on SENCOs who are too busy dealing with the bureaucracy of local authorities or the lack of specialist services. Ultimately, it is the majority of pupils with SEND who do not have an EHCP who are losing out on critical support.
DYT CEO Chris Rossiter says, ‘This report serves to validate the catastrophic impact that a lack of support and funding is placing on schools and young people. It cannot continue. DYT has been drawing attention to these issues since 2014, when the reforms were implemented. This report must serve as a catalyst to equip and facilitate the change required to ensure that every learner can access a high-quality education.”
The report goes on to condemn Education, Health and Care Plans and outlines failures in the EHCP system. As we’ve written before, whether an EHCP application is successful or not can depend on postcode, funding and pressure on schools from local government. What’s more, a survey of SENCOs published earlier this year revealed nearly three-quarters feel that they do not have enough time to ensure that pupils are able to access the provision that they need.
This report is evidence that more must be done to equip teachers with the skills, knowledge and understanding of SEND support. Recent developments in government policy are providing opportunities to ensure SEND is a crucial component of Initial Teacher Training and early teaching practice. However, these changes will have no immediate impact on children and young people, nor will they better equip schools to address their needs.
Driver Youth Trust completely support the conclusions in this report. We will continue our work to support schools and teachers. There is a clear need for wide-ranging systemic change if we ever hope to improve outcomes for young people with SEND. The government must commit to immediate and tangible action on behalf of these children and their families.