Thousands of children in England with diagnosed special educational needs are not receiving the right support in what Ofsted has called a ‘national scandal.’
As the BBC writes, there are currently 2,060 children in England who have education, health are care (EHC) plans which set out their specific needs, but who get no support at all.
Some parents have also said children only get assessed once they have been excluded from the school.
Amanda Spielman, Ofsted chief inspector of schools, said the body’s annual report paints a “bleak picture” of too many children being “failed by the education system.”
It raises serious concerns surrounding support for the 1.3 million children with special needs.
Ms Spielman noted that between 2010 and 2017, the number of children with EHC plans but who have been given no support increased fivefold.
The number peaked at over 4,000 last year, but has now dropped to 2,060.
The Department for Education (DfE) said that some children will not be accounted for as they will be in the process of moving between schools or colleges.
“One child with SEND [special educational needs and disability] not receiving the help they need is disturbing enough, but thousands is a national scandal,” Ms Spielman said.
The report also claims: “Most disconcerting is that the whereabouts of some of our most vulnerable children is unknown.”
It touches on previous concerns that some children had been taken off the school roll illegally, potentially because schools found it too difficult to teach them.
The study estimates that there are around 10,000 children who cannot be accounted for, suggesting they may have been off-rolled in years 10 and 11, as their names did not feature on the student lists of other schools.
Yet, it is possible many of these pupils have moved to independent schools, elsewhere, or are now receiving home schooling.
The report said that intensifying the difficulties faced by children with SEND and their families is that demand for EHC needs evaluations from local authorities has increased by half since 2015.
Last year, 45,200 children and young people received an assessment, while 14,600 were refused one.
EHC assessments and plans were brought in in 2014 to replace statements of special educational needs carried out by local authorities, in a bid to streamline the process and limit the burden on the special needs education system.
Yet, parents claim that EHC assessments and plans are just as burdensome as statements – and many face a long battle to get the right support for their child.
“Something is truly wrong when parents repeatedly tell inspectors that they have to fight to get the help and support that their child needs. That is completely contrary to the ethos of the SEND reforms,” the report noted.
In your opinion, what needs to be done to ensure all children in need of support, receive it?