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Support for children with special educational needs and disabilities

Inquiry

As of January 2019, 1.3 million pupils in England (14.9% of all pupils) were recorded as having special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). A child or young person has special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for them. There are two types of SEND support: about 1 in 5 students have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC) and the rest have some additional SEN support that is less extensive than an EHC plan.

The government substantially changed the system for supporting children and young people with SEND in September 2014. The aims of the reforms were for: children’s needs to be identified earlier; families to be more involved in decisions affecting them; education, health and social care services to be better integrated; and support to remain in place up to the age of 25 where appropriate.

The NAO have found that, since 2014, the number of children with the greatest needs has been growing and that more of them now have an EHC plan. However, the NAO has also found that Government funding has not been keeping pace with this increase. This means that councils are regularly overspending their budgets for supporting SEND pupils and this makes the system unsustainable.

The NAO also found that the Government has not been clear on what it wants the outcomes to be of SEND intervention and so it is difficult to say if it is meeting its goals. The Government also failed to work out how much the 2014 reforms would cost the public purse.

The Committee will be scrutinising the Department for Education on this and other issues relating to SEND.