The Wellbeing of Secondary Pupils With SEN Is Called Into Scrutiny


The Law Of… Keeping The Wellbeing Of SEN Pupils In Mind

The Department for Education has recently issued a research report in which they looked at the wellbeing of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

Nick Moran, Paralegal in Education Law, takes a look at the report.

The Findings Of The Report

The report considered both the happiness and psychological wellbeing of pupils with SEN, compared to those without. It also commented upon other trends evident within the secondary pupils with SEN demographic.

The findings provide significant concerns with regard to secondary pupils with SEN.

The data considered by the Department of Sociology at City University of London indicated that:

  • One in five secondary school pupils have SEN
  • Pupils with SEN are more likely to be male
  • Children eligible for free school meals are more likely to have SEN
  • Pupils with SEN are more likely to live in a single parent family
  • Children with SEN are more likely to come from the poorest 20% of families

Additionally, the report also indicates that secondary pupils with SEN are more likely than those without SEN to engage in risky behaviour. For example, 19% of 10-15 year olds with SEN have reportedly smoked compared to 8% of those without SEN having done so.

Are Children With SEN Happy?

In terms of wellbeing and satisfaction with certain areas of life, children with SEN showed little difference to those without SEN when asked about areas such as their appearance, family life and life as a whole.

However, there were significant differences between the wellbeing and satisfaction of pupils with their happiness in school and with their school work. Worryingly, a higher percentage of pupils with SEN reported that they had been physically bullied in school than those without SEN.

Other key statistics were as follows:

  • 31% of pupils with SEN had reported physical bullying, compared to 16% of pupils without SEN
  • 43% of pupils with SEN reported being bullied in other ways, compared to 30% of pupils without SEN
  • Almost one in five children with SEN (19%) reported being unhappy with school, compared to 7% of pupils without SEN
  • 13% of pupils with SEN were unhappy with school work, compared to 6% of pupils without SEN

What Else Can The Report Tell Us?

The report concludes that children with SEN demonstrate higher average levels of unhappiness with school, peer relationships and school work than those without SEN. A higher proportion specifically say that they are “unhappy” in these areas.

The report also assesses the likelihood of having psychological difficulties as a measure of wellbeing and finds that children with SEN are more likely to have psychological difficulties across all domains. The domains assessed are Emotional Difficulties, Conduct Problems, Hyperactivity, Peer Problems and Pro-social Behaviour.

However, it is identified that there may be some overlap between the likelihood of having psychological problems and having SEN, as many of the defined psychological problems are symptoms of certain SEN.

The findings of this report are somewhat concerning and perhaps indicative of problems with securing appropriate provision to support pupils with SEN in schools. Out of the 1600 pupil sample, 299 pupils were identified as having SEN and only 46 of those were in receipt of a Statement of Special Educational Needs (the data considered was collected prior to the reforms in 2014).

What Can Be Done To Help Children With SEN?

This news is clearly very worrying for parents of children with SEN. One of the first things that you should do if your child is being bullied is to encourage them to talk about what is happening. Depending on the age of your child, there is varied advice on how to talk to them about the situation.

Once you know the extent of what is happening, you should then approach your child’s school and ask for a meeting with your child’s teacher. The school will have procedures in place to tackle the problem and you should keep a document of all instances of bullying that your child mentions, to go through with the teacher that you meet.

If no progress is made to resolve bullying, parents could also try and ensure that their child’s needs are assessed correctly, to provide them with further support.

Nick comments:

Under the new EHCP system, the bar for securing an assessment of a child’s needs is lower than previously, though parents continue to have difficulty securing the support their child needs.”

“The current test sets out that the Local Authority must conduct an assessment if a child or young person has or may have SEN and may require provision in accordance with an EHCP. Many Local Authorities are refusing assessments on the basis that the child or young person’s needs can be met from resources already available, without conducting an assessment of that child or young person’s needs.”

“The assessment is crucial in determining whether or not the resources already available are suitable to do so, so many Local Authorities are reaching this conclusion prematurely and such a decision could be challenged via an appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.”

“If you consider that your child requires further support and that an assessment of their needs may be helpful or if you have been refused an assessment, an EHCP or disagree with the contents of your EHCP, do not hesitate to contact our specialist advisors as we may be able to advise or assist with an appeal relating to an EHCP.”

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