Voice Official Response: Special educational needs and disabilities inquiry
Backgound: In 2014, the Government introduced wide-reaching changes to the SEND system, with the intention of offering simpler, improved and consistent help for children and young people with SEND. The Government claimed these changes would give families greater choice in decisions. The Committee’s new inquiry is intended to review the success of these reforms, how they have been implemented, and what impact they are having in meeting the challenges faced by children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
- Anecdotal evidence is that assessments and support for young people with SEND are inconsistent and vary across authorities.
- Voice members felt that this increased demand may be due to a loss of support staff in schools as a consequence of restructuring and reorganisation due to budget pressures.
- Voice members reported increased workloads and additional tasks, impacting on the quality of support to children.
- Members working in rural authorities experienced more resource restrictions than in urban authorities, and difficulty accessing those available.
- Specialist staff who used to be employed in local authorities are no longer available or subject to lengthy delays because of reduced staffing and increased workloads.
- Headteacher members suggested schools were under increasing pressure because of reduced services in local authorities.
- Social Care support is reported as inconsistent.
- Transition from statements to EHCPs seems to have gone well.
- Members reported funding pressures that were impacting on quality of learning and outcomes for children and on resource replacement.
- Staff in centrally budgeted Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) and Alternative Provision (APs) reported budget pressures and cuts that are impacting on the quality of education for vulnerable young people.
- Headteachers expressed concern about the National Funding Formula and High Needs Funding reforms.
- In terms of roles and levels of cooperation between departments, members reported inconsistencies in the way local authorities cooperate with support agencies and gain access to support.
- Anecdotal evidence suggests that little has changed in these relationships over the last two years. Services are difficult to access unless there is a “unique” relationship.