Poll Reveals Children With Special Educational Needs And Disabilities Are Not Being Supported

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The Law Of... supporting children with special educational needs

According to a recent Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) poll, a staggering 80% of respondents believed that children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the UK are not being given the support and guidance that they need, as stated by the BBC.

Lack of support for children with special educational needs

Whilst the government stated that they wanted all children to be able to fulfil their potential, ATL General Secretary Dr Mary Bousted commented that "significant and immediate" funding was essential for this to happen.

Polling Those On The Front Lines

The poll was taken by 585 members of staff working in state schools in England, and:

  • 70.7% of respondents believed that the system was failing to identify children with special needs in a timely way
  • 58.4% of the individuals thought that pupils who were identified as having special needs weren't receiving the support that they needed
  • 48.6% of respondents also said they weren't provided with or able to access the training they needed to be able to meet the needs of their students

This isn't the first time that issues have been identified regarding the amount of help available for children with SEND. Around 2 years ago, the government reformed the system and replaced special needs statements with more comprehensive Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), which catered to a child's health and care needs, as well as allowing parents to have a greater say in choosing the most suitable school for their child.

However, 43% of those taking part in the survey believed that a high percentage of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities were now not able to access crucial government funding.

They also found that whilst children who have complex or severe needs are eligible for high needs funding, individuals whose special educational needs are views as less complex – such as dyslexia – don't automatically receive the support they need.

Reforming EHCPs?

Describing reforms to special needs statements as "ambitious and well intentioned", Dr Mary Bousted expressed deep concerns over the state of the system and believed that without adequate funding it would most likely fall into a downward spiral.

The Department for Education's injection of over £90million of funding for children with high needs this year aimed to combat the shortage of support offered to children. However, this latest poll demonstrates that the government might need to reevaluate the way in which children are assessed and the type of training given to staff working with those with special needs and disabilities.

Samantha Hale, Associate Solicitor in Education and Community Care at Simpson Millar, comments:

"It is good to see that so many teachers responded to this survey honestly. However, it's incredibly concerning that over 70% of staff working with children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities believe that they're suffering due to an inadequate – or inefficient – system that was invented to prevent them from slipping through the cracks."

"There seems to be a consensus amongst staff taking the survey that children with learning difficulties are actually being sidelined and denied access to support that would change their lives for the better. Again, whilst it is encouraging to see teachers responding honestly to this survey, I am concerned that teachers aren't communicating their concerns to the parents."

"Many school witnesses will support a local authority when an EHCP or a Statement of SEND is challenged via a First-tier SEND Tribunal. This is also deeply troubling as based on these statistics it leads me to wonder whether some of these witnesses have concerns but do not express them. If this is the case, this is very worrying, especially as this could be leading to a pupil being denied the provisions they require."

"The Children and Families Act 2014 states that local authorities in England have a duty to ensure that they identify all children and young people who have, or might have, special educational needs or disabilities in their area. They also have a responsibility to consider whether the provisions made for these children sufficiently meet their educational, training, and social care needs. For children with Statements of SEND or EHCPs, local authorities must ensure there are provisions to meet the educational needs identified. Any failure to do this might result in further obstacles for these children to overcome, which is unjust and threatens their future development."


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