March 2019

IPSEA has described its experiences of a special educational needs and disabilities (“SEND”) system which fails to ensure families receive the same level of support across the country, where far too many children end up out of education, and where the funding does not match the goals set out in the Children and Families Act 2014.

In our response to a consultation by the National Audit Office on whether value for money was being achieved in relation to support for pupils with SEND, we highlighted our key concerns that:

  • Funding is often not directed to pupils on the basis of need, given the disproportionate numbers of pupils with SEND who end up excluded from school or otherwise out of education. Additionally, pupils often lose out due to significant pressure on school places.
  • Parents and carers frequently have to fight to get their basic legal entitlements to support, which places an unreasonable burden on families and disadvantages children and young people who do not have an adult advocating for them (particularly looked after children and children within the youth justice system).
  • There is an inconsistency in the level of support available in different areas, in terms of access to EHC needs assessments, diagnoses, mental health support and social care support.
  • Schools are not given adequate funding to make the provision in pupils’ EHC plans, and school staff are often unaware of the legal entitlements of pupils with SEND.
  • Young people, particularly those aged 19 and older, regularly have their plans ceased for unlawful reasons.

Our recommendations include:

  • Adequate funding to enable local authorities and schools to meet their statutory obligations and reduce the adversarial nature of the system.
  • Greater accountability for local authorities in relation to children out of school, and for schools in relation to pupils they exclude.
  • IPSEA believes initial teacher training and the SENCO qualification should include at least one module dedicated to the SEND legal framework.
  • A standard EHC plan template to reduce confusion for parents and make it clear to local authorities what is required.
  • The continuation and (where necessary) improvement of the Information, Advice and Support (“IAS”) Services.

Our full response can be read here.