Children’s Commissioner calls for radical overhaul of the SEND system
Children’s Commissioner, Rachel De Souza, has expressed her concerns about lack of support for children with Special Educational Needs in mainstream education and the long waiting times for Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) as demand reaches new highs.
New statistics published by the Department for Education reveal that 1,183,384 pupils in England in 2023 receive support for their special educational needs (SEN) without an EHCP. This is up by 4.7% from 2022.
However, despite the demand, the number of EHCPs being issued to children has risen by only 7% this year to 66,000. Data published by the DfE indicates that the deadline of 20 weeks for local authorities to issue an EHCP is being met in only 51% of cases, down from 60% in 2021.
The overall number of pupils in England with special educational needs has also risen to 17.3%, up from 16.6% last year.
De Souza said “I am really concerned by this data, which clearly shows that demand for EHCPs has never been higher. We need to radically rehaul our approach to SEND, to create a system which is ambitious for every child,”
She continued “It is welcome that the Government has now published its SEND Improvement Plan, particularly its focus on early help for families and making EHCPs more useful for young people. It is now fundamental that these reforms are implemented quickly, to prevent any more families from reaching breaking point.
I’ve seen some fantastic examples, across schools, care, colleges, and health, so now the challenge is to make sure that every service and all support for every child and every family, is as brilliant as the best, wherever they are in the country.”
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Published on 28th June 2023