The Education Committee has released its report reviewing the success and implementation of the Government’s SEND reforms and the impact they are having in meeting the challenges faced by children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
Whilst the report endorses the reforms as being ‘the right ones’ it finds that local authorities will struggle to discharge their duties unless ‘challenges within the system’ are addressed.
Key amongst these challenges are related to finance with the report issuing a scathing attack on the Department for Education claiming it ‘set local authorities up to fail by making serious errors both in how it administered money intended for change, and also, until recently, failing to provide extra money when it was needed.’
Whilst the significant shortfall in funding is considered a serious contributory factor to the failure on the part of schools and local authorities to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND it also notes that a ‘systemic cultural shift on the part of all parties involved’ is required to make a real difference to the outcomes and experiences of children and young people with SEND.
The report notes a climate of passing the buck between these parties and an ‘absence of responsibility for driving any change or holding anyone accountable when changes do not happen’.
Consequently, the Report’s recommendations include:
A need for the Department for Education to take more responsibility for ensuring that its reforms are overseen.
The introduction of a reporting and accountability mechanism for non-compliance allowing parents and schools can report directly to the Department for Education where local authorities appear not to be complying with the law.
The need for the Government to make the notional budget a focus of its review into the financial arrangements of provision for pupils with SEND, and for those in alternative provision.
The need for Department for Education to strengthen the guidance in the Code of Practice on SEN Support to provide greater clarity over how children should be supported.
Read the full report here.