Natspec welcomes the Education Select Committee report on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, published today. We are particularly pleased that the Committee has considered the whole 0-25 system rather than just issues affecting children of school age. Alongside representatives from a wide range of stakeholders, the Committee heard oral evidence from Natspec’s chair, representatives of member colleges and from a parent of one of our students. Natspec also submitted extensive written evidence.
Bernie White, Natspec’s Chair, who was one of the witnesses at the Select Committee, said:
“We agree with the Committee’s conclusions that the 2014 reforms were the right ones and that the underpinning legislation does not require any substantial change.
We also support their analysis that implementation of these reforms has been hindered by a lack of funding, poor administration, and the absence of a clear system of accountability.
We are pleased that the Committee’s report reflects our evidence and welcome the call for creating a neutral role to overcome the conflict of interest within local authorities who have responsibility for both assessment and funding. For young people with high needs, this has led to a postcode lottery when it comes to education and support as well as disputes over placements and too many tribunals.
We also welcome the Committee’s analysis of post-16 issues, which acknowledges a raft of issues including that of young people having limited opportunities to progress to employment or independent or supported housing – despite the progress they have made at college.”
Natspec CEO, Clare Howard, said:
“The Select Committee has set out the key issues very clearly and we support its call for an to end ‘reactive, sticking plaster policies’ and for the government to act quickly. We all now know what is working and what isn’t – it’s time to move on to identifying and implementing solutions and introducing proper accountability.
It’s urgent that the Department for Education takes the findings of the Select Committee’s report – alongside evidence gathered from other recent research1 – and comes up with ways to get the system working as originally envisaged. For post-16 students, we would urge them to focus on
- designing a funding system that works for the FE sector, in particular addressing wider than local catchment areas and reducing the bureaucracy of high needs funding
- requiring local authorities to take a strategic and regional approach to planning post-16 and post-19 provision, in partnership with education and training providers of all types
- working closely with DWP and DHSC to ensure young people have access to an array of post-college options as part of a fulfilling adult life.
None of this will be possible without adequate funding from government. And it is unlikely to happen unless we have a robust system of accountability and sanctions for non-compliance.
We look forward to working with the Department to ensure that in the future all young people with SEND get the education, training and support they are entitled to.”
1 Recent research and evidence gathered includes the consultation on funding for SEND and AP, the government report on residential schools and colleges, the NAO report on the SEND system and the Timpson exclusions review. You can also read all Natspec’s publications and responses about what is and isn’t working for support for post-16 with SEND.