Open Objects responds to reports of SEND services ‘crisis’

New survey results released by school leaders’ union, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), has revealed a ‘system crisis’ in the way schools in England are being financially supported to meet the requirements of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The findings highlighted that only 2% of respondents reported receiving enough top-up funding to support the needs of their most vulnerable pupils, with more than nine out of ten claiming SEND support is harder to resource compared to two years ago.

Commenting on the research, Chris Evans from Idox’s Open Objects said:

“In the four years since the introduction of the SEND reforms, local authorities have had access to additional funding from the Department for Education (DfE) to implement new processes that align with the legislation. Much of the funding has been used to employ temporary staff to manage the challenges of the statutory process and to focus on converting statements. There has been little focus on supporting education settings to practice effective and consistent SEND support to try and avoid inappropriate escalation into the EHC pathway.”

The NAHT report titled, Empty Promises: The crisis in supporting children with SEND, also found there were long delays for pupil assessment, with 15% of respondents waiting more than six months from referral for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) assessment, and 39% waiting more than six months from referral for an EHCP to be produced. When they were drafted, less than a third (32%) reported that they accurately reflected the needs of their pupils.

Chris continues:

While EHC Plans and annual reviews are an essential part of how a child or young person with SEND achieves their outcomes, these statutory processes are only for an estimated 2.9% of cases. SEN support is the start of the journey for all families and the current lack of collaboration, transparency and communication between local authorities, education settings, and families are vital principles to ensure a proportionate and sustainable response to meeting the needs of children and young people with SEND.”

The survey results align with an independent review, Good intentions, good enough?, commissioned by the DfE, which looked at the experiences and outcomes of children in residential special schools and colleges. The review suggests that many of the children and young people currently in such education settings could be educated in their local communities if better support was available and all stakeholders worked more collaboratively.

To read more about Chris’ views on SEND pathways, read his article ‘Driving a digital approach to aid collaboration and improve outcomes’, exploring how technology can help local authorities and education settings deliver a more transparent, collaborative and successful SEND service, or visit openobjects.com to learn more.