Review launched into support for SEN

Following the pledge of £700 million for pupils with special educational needs in the recent Spending Review, the Department for Education has announced a new review to improve support.

Five years after reforms were introduced to better support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), the review aims to improve the services available to families who need support, equip staff in schools and colleges to respond effectively to their needs as well as ending the ‘postcode lottery’ they often face.

Alongside the funding, the decision will seek to boost outcomes and improve value for money, so that vulnerable children have the same opportunities to succeed, as well as improving capacity and support for families across England.

The new review will look at the how the system has evolved since 2014, how it can be made to work best for all families and ensure quality of provision is the same across the country. Recognising the importance of joined-up support, it will also explore the role of health care in SEND in collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I want parents to know that we’re committed to boosting outcomes and ensuring the right support is in place for children with special educational needs, by breaking down the barriers to a good education and making sure the system works for families. That is why the Prime Minister committed to providing an extra £700 million next year, an 11 per cent increase, to make sure these children can access the education that is right for them.

“Our reforms in 2014 gave vital support to more children, but we know there have been problems in delivering the changes that we all want to see. So it’s the right time to take stock of our system and make sure the excellence we want to see as a result of our changes is the norm for every child and their families.”

More than 350,000 children and young people aged 0-25 with the most complex special educational needs are currently on Education Health and Care plans. Of those in schools around half (130,000) are continuing in mainstream education.

James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “This cross-government review of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) support is good news and is what the LGA has previously called for to identify how we can tackle the immense demand pressures councils are facing in providing vital care and support for children and young people with SEND.

“The extra £700 million for SEND announced in the Spending Round is recognition of these pressures and will help councils in meeting demand for support next year, but we believe that system reform is necessary alongside additional funding.

“We are keen that this review also considers inclusion because we want to see all schools become more inclusive, so that more children with high needs can be appropriately supported in mainstream schools. We want to work with government and families and children with SEND on this review to get a clear picture of why demand and cost pressures are continuing to rise and what can be done to make the system work more effectively for everyone.”

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