The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has published a report on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children with SEND. 

The report says that the manner and speed with which the national lockdown and school closures happened meant that many children and families were left without support. It describes the impact of the emergency coronavirus legislation and the temporary dilution of children’s rights to special educational provision. It also highlights the use of risk assessments to prevent children with SEND attending school, and the impact of delays in carrying out education, health and care (EHC) needs assessments and producing EHC plans. 

The cross-party group of MPs recommend that the Government should:

  • Carry out an urgent review of the impact of Covid-19 on children with SEND and make sure that support is focused on the children who need it most
  • Make new and additional funding available to help children with SEND recover from the measures taken to address the pandemic
  • Provide specific funding to address the backlog and delays in the process of producing EHC plans
  • Make the EHC process “simpler and more compassionate”
  • Make sure that support for children with SEND is a feature of all future pandemic planning 

IPSEA submitted evidence to the APPG based on what families told us about their children’s experiences of provision and support during lockdown. We highlighted the failure in many areas to meet children’s needs, often in clear breach of the law, and the impact this had on children’s education and wellbeing. The APPG  draws on our evidence throughout their report, including the difficulties for children with SEND with accessing education remotely, the disruption for children of transitions in and out of schools and to new educational settings, and the widespread failure to provide what children’s EHC plans said they should have when they returned to school in September 2020. 

Ali Fiddy, IPSEA’s Chief Executive, said: 

“The APPG has heard loud and clear that the Covid-19 pandemic amplified existing problems in the system for supporting children and young people with SEND – it didn’t create them. The system that should provide children with the support they need at school was failing children before the pandemic, with many local authorities not complying with their legal duties. The Government’s ongoing SEND review is an important opportunity to fix these problems.” 

Read the full report here.