SEND struggles highlighted by survey
A survey published by The Key – an organisation providing leadership and management support to schools – has made the headlines this morning highlighting the struggle that schools and Local Authorities in England are facing in implementing the new SEND system following the 2014 reforms.
The idea behind the reforms was to create a simpler and more joined up system stretching from birth to age 25, incorporating health and care needs alongside educational needs, with an individual worker and a single budget for each family. Concerns have been raised by charities, organisations and schools since the launch of the new system in 2014 with many complaining that the changes were being implemented too quickly. Emerging problems with the new system were already being discussed at the Wordswell SEN Conference in 2015. Elaine Maxwell, Chair of the IPSEA explained that the Government's deadline to complete the transition to EHCP's by April 2018 is "simply not going to happen".
Eighteen months after the introduction of the new system the Key Survey reveals that school leaders are finding that funding, delays to assessments and cuts to local authorities are affecting their ability to adequately provide for pupils with SEN. Startlingly 82% of the 1,100 school leaders surveyed said that their schools did not have sufficient funding, and 89% believe that cuts to local authorities services have had a detrimental impact on the support their school receives for SEND. The delays in the assessment process are widespread with 75% of schools having pupils who have waited over the six week maximum time frame for an assessment of their needs. This is a frustrating position for schools, their leaders and families who require funding, resources and support to provide effectively for children so that they can achieve not only their academic potential, but also to ensure their well-being – the importance of which Janet O'Keefe highlights here.
The new regime is one of the key topics that will be discussed at this year's Wordswell "Towards a Positive Future" SEN Conference, exploring what is currently happening and comparing it to what should be happening. The conference, for parents of children with special educational needs and the professionals who support them, takes place at Fieldfisher on Thursday 16 June 2016. Tickets are available here.
Written by Annie McBain, Solicitor