Today, the Government announced a new review into support for children with special educational needs and disabilities. It follows last week’s announcement of £700 million for learners with SEND, and the Department for Education say it “will look at the how the system has evolved since [the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014], how it can be made to work best for all families and ensure quality of provision is the same across the country.”
Natspec’s chief executive, Clare Howard, said:
“We agree that there is an urgent need to improve the system. In its announcement, the government has identified some of the critical issues to be addressed. However, much evidence on what is going wrong has already been gathered, most recently through the Department for Education’s call for evidence on funding for SEND, the Education Select Committee’s Special Educational Needs inquiry and by Edward Timpson’s exclusions review. We would urge the government to focus its energies on resolving the issues already identified; the time and expertise of the sector would be far more profitably used in this way.
In particular, we would advise that the legislation underpinning the SEND reforms is widely accepted as appropriate. The failings relate to making the system work in practice. We need to find ways to ensure the system can deliver on the good intentions of the reforms. And it’s not going to be able to do that without significant additional funding beyond the £700 million already announced, particularly for the post-16 age group.
We are pleased to see that the government intends to explore how to achieve ‘the right balance of state-funded provision across inclusive mainstream and specialist places.’ The continued commitment to public funding of specialist places within the wider provision for students with SEND is welcome. Natspec and its members look forward to working with the government to clarify the place of specialist providers, develop mainstream-specialist partnerships and help resolve the issue of providing quality provision for the highly specialised services that are not cost-effective to provide in every local area.”