In the build up to Special Needs Week we asked SENCos across the UK to let us know how they were coping with the rising number of special needs pupils and students in their schools. The results of our surveys which covered both primary schools and secondary schools can be found on our website.
Now a second survey arranged by “The Key” has backed up our findings and suggests that
● 82% of mainstream schools in England do not have sufficient funding and budget to adequately provide for pupils with SEND
● 89% of school leaders believe cuts to local authority services have had a detrimental impact on the support their school receives for pupils with SEND
● Three-quarters of schools have pupils who have been waiting longer than expected for assessment of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan
● 88% of school leaders think initial teacher training does not adequately prepare teachers to support pupils with SEND.
The BBC review of the work notes that these reports follow “government reforms, which came into effect in September 2014, that aimed to put each child and their family at the centre of discussions about support offered.”
The Key survey suggests primary schools are under the most strain when it comes to providing for pupils with SEND, with eight out of ten primary school leaders saying their budget was insufficient, while seven in 10 at secondary school level raised concerns about funding - figures very similar to those revealed in the Special Needs Week survey.
They further state that, “Nine in ten at primary level have had the support they receive for SEND provision affected by cuts to their local authority, while this was the case for eight in ten secondary leaders...
“Eight in ten primary schools have pupils who have been waiting longer than expected, while the figure is just over six in ten at secondary schools.
The BBC also quotes Cllr Roy Perry, chairman of the Local Government Association's children and young people board, as saying, "We were clear with the Department for Education at the time that implementing the SEND reforms in the Children and Families Bill was significantly underfunded by the government and this has been borne out in reality.
"Councils are working hard to ensure all children and young people are being moved from SEND statements to EHCP by the deadline of 31 March 2018, but the transition process is complex."
The DfE spokesman in replying was quoted by the BBC as saying, "Schools have a vital role to play in this work, which is why we've protected the overall school budget and increased the funding for children and young people with high needs by over £90m this year.
"Ensuring teachers are trained to have an understanding of the needs of pupils with SEND is a key part of our drive to give all children access to the education they deserve."
SEND training will form part of the new core content for initial teacher training, the spokesman added.