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Children’s Commissioner calls for radical reform of the SEND system

Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel De Souza, has called for a major overhaul of the SEND system after new data shows an increasing trend in the number of people appealing against local authority decisions about Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) for children with special educational needs.

Lastest figures show that the number of appeals in 2022-23 was up by 2,600 (24%) from 2021-22 with the number of appeals has increasing every year since 2014. The proportion of cases finding at least in part in favour of the appellant has also reached a record high of 98%, up from 96% in both 2021-22 and 2020-21. 

De Souza said “  These appeals represent children and families who are unable to get the support they need, the vast majority of whom are then successful in challenging a local authority’s decision.

“ In my report last year on Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) we found that children want support to help them do well, but they often experience a system which is more interested in asking ‘what is wrong with you?’ than ‘how can we help?’.

“As the data indicates, children and their families are often having to chase an EHCP to get the support they need to thrive in school. 

She continued “I am extremely concerned by these statistics, which indicates a distinct lack of support for children with Special Educational Needs. It’s welcome that the Government has published its SEND implementation plan, but we still have further to go to bring about urgent change for families.”

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Published on 2nd February 2024