Is the System Broken?25 Jul, 20231-2 minutes
In this blog, you will learn
- Is the SEND system broken?
- What is being done about it
- What problems it is causing families
- How the government can help families with SEN children
- Where the latest SEND jobs are and how to apply for them
Is the SEND system broken
The purpose of the Special Educational Needs and/or Disability (SEND) system in England is to support children in reaching their goals, ideally through collaborative efforts between the system, children, and their families, all working towards a common vision.
However, as some local authorities buckle under increased demand for its services, the service and experience is being heavily impacted.
Data from the DfE found that nearly 1.2 million children in England have special educational needs support without an EHCP; a figure which is up 4.7% from 2022. An additional 400,000 pupils have an EHC plan which is also up 9.5% from 2022.
It’s thought that the ‘spiralling costs’ of providing SEN support is outstripping budgets which are allocated to councils.
Subsequently, parents and guardians of children with SEND are finding themselves increasingly trapped in extended and expensive disputes with councils who are falling short in fulfilling their legal obligations.
Furthermore, a considerable number of society's most vulnerable children are left without the support they rightfully deserve. As a consequence, they remain out of school for extended periods, sometimes stretching into months or even years, as their parents tirelessly fight to secure the appropriate provisions to meet their child's unique needs.
A staggering 81% of respondents reported waiting over three months for an appointment or diagnosis, with half of them waiting for more than a year. Among those with an education, health, and care plan (ECHP), a concerning 32% stated that their child was not receiving the entitlements outlined in their plan.
With such startling statistics, it has led many to question, is the SEND system broken? More importantly, if it is broken, how can it be fixed?
What is being done about it?
The government has announced a transformative plan to enhance services for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in England. This long-awaited initiative includes the implementation of new national standards and the creation of thousands of additional specialist school places.
To achieve this, the department for education has proposed a series of reforms aimed at enhancing the SEND provision system in England, which it refers to as a 'postcode lottery.'
The outlined plans consist of constructing 82 special free schools and significantly expanding training opportunities for 5,000 Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators and 400 Educational Psychologists.
These initiatives seek to create a more equitable and comprehensive support system for children with special educational needs and disabilities across the country.
What problems is it causing to families?
Recent research has revealed the distressing financial consequences for families as they advocate for support for their children. The research found that one in five people had to seek legal advice to obtain the necessary provisions, leading some families into significant debt. Additionally, over a third of families spent more than £5,000 in their pursuit of support.
Amid the ongoing cost of living crisis, financial pressures have intensified this problem even further. 61% of parents reported cutting back on spending for their children's support.
While some families resort to private support, up to one in 10 are forced to borrow money to fund it, and a quarter are left with no choice but to dip into their savings. These financial strains only exacerbate the challenges faced by families in securing the vital assistance their children require.
Families are calling for government intervention, as 51% of them believe that the responsibility for enhancing the system in their area lies with the government.
How can the government help families with SEN children?
It’s suggested that the government can help families with children who have special educational needs (SEN) in various ways, including:
Allocate more resources and funding to support SEN services, ensuring that schools and support providers have the necessary resources to cater to the diverse needs of these children.
Improve access to quality education by promoting inclusive practices in mainstream schools and ensuring that specialised schools are available for children with severe needs.
Invest in early identification and intervention programs to identify and address developmental delays and learning difficulties as early as possible.
Specialist training for teachers
Provide specialised training for teachers and school staff to better understand and cater to the needs of children with SEN in mainstream schools.
Parent support programs
Offer support programs and workshops for parents, equipping them with knowledge and skills to advocate for their children effectively and understand the available support options.
Ensure that essential healthcare services and therapies are affordable and accessible for families with children who have SEN.
Offer respite care services to give parents and caregivers a break, helping them maintain their well-being and ability to support their child effectively.
Flexible work arrangements
Encourage employers to provide flexible work arrangements for parents caring for children with SEN to balance work and caregiving responsibilities.
Develop transition support programs to assist children with SEN as they move from one educational stage to another or transition into adulthood.
Access to technology
Provide access to assistive technology and devices that can aid learning and communication for children with different needs.
Collaboration between agencies
Foster collaboration between different agencies and departments involved in supporting children with SEN, ensuring a coordinated approach to services.
Legal advocacy support
Offer legal advocacy support for families who face difficulties in obtaining the appropriate support and services for their children.
Special education scholarships
Provide scholarships or financial aid for families to access specialised education and support services.
Inclusive recreational activities
Support and promote inclusive recreational activities and programs that allow children with SEN to participate and socialise with their peers.
Research and development
Invest in research and development to continuously improve SEN support systems and identify innovative solutions to meet the evolving needs of these children.
By implementing these measures, the government can significantly improve the support and services available to families with children who have special educational needs, fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment for all.
Discover the latest SEN jobs
If you haven't found your ideal position yet, consider uploading your CV or reaching out to our SEN specialist, Richard Shorrock, who can offer you more details about the exciting opportunities waiting for you!
Who is Spencer Clarke Group?
Located in the vibrant heart of the North West, we are a thriving recruitment agency committed to serving both the public and private sectors. Our team is highly driven and ambitious, constantly seeking innovative solutions to connect exceptional individuals like yourself with their desired positions.