Schools watchdog Ofsted have revealed a damning report on the educational provision for children with special educational needs (SEND), warning that many are missing out on the support the they are entitled to.
The chief inspector of England’s schools, Amanda Spielman warned that diagnosis for pupils with SEND is taking too long as many are being misdiagnosed and their health needs are not being supported sufficiently.
The report revealed that thousands of children who have an educational healthcare plan (EHC), a legal document which sets out their needs-were still awaiting provision. This has almost tripled since 2010, with more than 4000 pupils still waiting in 2017
Bim kujembola, 51, teaches SEND students at Waltham Forest College in East London. She is not surprised by the report but believes there are correlating factors at work. Ms Kuembola’s college has faced cuts in recent years, impacting on staff competency, student resources and facilities. The SEND provision has deteriorated as SEND professionals including speech therapists, educational psychologists and mentors have been greatly reduced, resulting in inadequate support for SEND students.
Concerns over the number of children disappearing from education altogether were also highlighted. Almost 6,000 SEND pupils left school in years 10 and 11. Some were removed illegally, perceiving them to be too difficult to teach or at risk of impacting GCSE results negatively.
Local areas across England with the best and worst performance shows a widening gap for children with SEND. Out of the 68 local areas inspected, serious failings were discovered in 30.
Parents are angry that essential services are being withdrawn by local authorities. They fear their children will not be able to get the most out of their experience at school and in getting the right kind of support.
Shirya Rahman, 40 a resident in Tower Hamlets, is one of those parents who has had to previously demand that school, Ben Johnson Primary, provide a speech therapist for her autistic son. Waiting for her son to get assessed did not take too long but getting the support for her him and herself has been challenging.
“I get parents calling or wanting a meeting with me to try and get more support for their children even though that’s not my job”, says Shona Benfield who leads the supported internship programme at New City College, Tower Hamlets. Ms Benfield highlights that SEND provision is not great because some councils funds have been cut and they are struggling to cope with the demand.
A number of parent groups have started legal action against their local authorities across the country to resist further cuts to SEND provision.
A recent survey of 73 councils conducted by the Local Government Association warned that SEND support can potentially face a £536m deficit.
This means they could miss out on mainstream education if more funds are not given by the central government.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary reportedly said: “When even the chief inspector recognises that Tory cuts to children’s and youth services are a false economy, it is time for ministers to act and end their cuts to local authorities”.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education has said schools standards need to be raised, as shown by the report and they will “work with Ofsted, schools, local authorities and others to address the issues this report picks out.”