Children with SEND are more than twice as likely to be unhappy with school than those without SEND, according to the DfE wellbeing report.
The DfE have recently published their research on comparing levels of happiness and psychological difficulties between children with and without special educational needs from 2012-2013. The report compares Understanding Society survey data with the national pupil database to examine levels of children’s wellbeing.
The findings show that:
The research has also found a link between having SEND and psychological difficulties, such as conduct problems and hyperactivity. 25% of children have a high level of difficulties compared to 11% of other children, although researchers pointed out that there was an overlap with some children who had a SEND diagnosis due to psychological problems. Analysing data from 1,600 children, including 299 with SEND to find out how having SEND influenced children’s happiness once other characteristics, for example being from a poorer family, had been taken into account.
Researchers Matt Barnes and Eric Harrison said “Children with SEND may experience their school and family life in a way that is distinct from those without SEND, for instance, they may be at a greater risk of being bullied, or being excluded from school – factors which themselves can reduce wellbeing and lead to disadvantage in later life. More generally, the distinct experiences of children with SEND inside and outside the educational system raise pressing issues for policy and research.”
The report states “Clearly, there is evidence that how children think about their wellbeing in relation to school is an issue for a number of children with SEN. Given that having SEN means a child requires additional support at school, it is perhaps unsurprising that the biggest difference between children with SEN and without SEN is for their views on their school work.”
However, the report found the link between SEN pupils and wellbeing was even stronger for psychological wellbeing – with SEND youngsters scoring higher than their peers across a range of areas.
There are a number of caveats to the report and the findings. For example, it may mask distinct wellbeing of children with different types of SEND and only a small number of SEN pupils were included in the analysis.
The study has recommended further longitudinal research to explore the wellbeing of SEN pupils.
Alongside, the publication of this paper, the DfE have also released research on special educational needs support in schools and colleges. The research is on how mainstream schools and colleges provide SEN support.
To read the full report on ‘The Wellbeing of Secondary School pupils with SEND”
To read the full report on “Special educational needs support in schools and colleges”