Government Special Educational Needs report is released

Fri,3 March 2023
News Education
Ministers have finally published their special educational needs (SEN) report, pledging to go ahead with major countrywide reforms.

The long-awaited plan confirms investment in training for workers, new educational standards, and the building of more SEN schools across the country. This follows on from confirmation of 33 new special free schools which are to be built, which will add to the 49 already in the pipeline.

However, a £70 million “Change Programme" – which will run for two to three years – will pilot these proposed changes first, before they are finalised.

Within the new improvement plan are proposals to transform the existing SEN system which will be underpinned by new national SEND standards. It is hoped that this will give families confidence in what support they should receive and who will provide and pay for it, regardless of where they live in the country.

There will also be new guides for professionals to help them provide the right support in line with the national standards but suited to each child’s unique experience, setting out for example how to adjust classrooms to help a child remain in mainstream education.

To improve parents’ and carers’ experiences of accessing support, the plan will cut local bureaucracy by making sure the process for assessing children and young people’s needs through Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) is digital-first, quicker and simpler wherever possible.

The announcement follows on from an ITV report which shows that thousands of children with special educational needs along with their parents are being failed by the system which is intended to help them.

Campaigners across the country have responded to the announcement by warning that the government’s plan “falls short” of the urgent reforms needed to address the “crisis” in support for children with SEND and their families.

Disability Rights UK Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “1.5 million Disabled children and their families are left underwhelmed and disappointed today by the Government’s plans to improve education for children with additional learning needs. The plans aren’t radical enough and investment in the future of Disabled children is wholly insufficient.

“The growth in Special Schools is presented as a huge step forward, in fact it is a sign that inclusive mainstream education is failing. It is only relatively recently that Disabled children were allowed to come to mainstream schools and now the clock is being turned back.”

The full report from the Government on SEN reform is available to read online.