Special educational needs

System for children with special needs in England ‘riddled with inequalities’ | Education

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are being failed by a system “riddled with unexplained inequalities”, according to a damning parliamentary report. The report says many of the 1.3 million pupils in England with SEND are not getting the support they need and end up being excluded from school, damaging their education, wellbeing and future life chances. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the funding crisis in SEND and shortcomings in provision were high on the political agenda. Ministers…

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Children could be recruited by gangs during lockdown, report says | Society

A “real risk” exists of criminal gangs recruiting young people out of school during the coronavirus lockdown, the children’s commissioner for England has warned in a report on deprivation in England. The report by Anne Longfield said hundreds of thousands of young people are off the radar of “early warning systems” such as schools, putting them at heightened risk. It calls for the government to ensure that councils and teachers stay in touch with those most vulnerable to exploitation, and…

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Just 5% of vulnerable children were in school in England last week | Education

Almost half a million vulnerable children who have been allocated emergency school places to keep them safe during the pandemic were missing from classrooms last week, according to government figures. Just 24,000 pupils classed by the government as vulnerable turned up at schools in England last Friday, which constitutes 5% of the total entitled to attend school during the lockdown, including over the Easter break. The figures from the Department for Education (DfE) confirm on-the-ground reports from schools that few…

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‘We batter them with kindness’: schools that reject super-strict values | Education

It is a bitterly cold Yorkshire morning and outside a school in Barnsley staff are involved in the most important part of the school day. “All right, Kyle?” asks Dave Whitaker, the executive principal of Springwell special academy. “Morning, Kenzie. I saw some lovely writing of yours last night.” One by one, the children are greeted by staff with a warm smile and a personalised hello. The teachers’ enthusiasm, however genuine, is rarely reciprocated. Some students scowl, others grunt a…

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Heads and councils press for extra £5.5bn for ‘struggling’ schools | Education

An alliance of headteachers, school governors, councils and unions are to lobby the chancellor for a further £5.5bn a year to help schools in England to avoid financial difficulties and cuts. The coalition, involving almost every significant organisation involved in state schools – including the National Governors Association and a bipartisan group representing both Conservative and Labour-led councils – is writing to Rishi Sunak before next week’s budget seeking additional funds, with a focus on “woefully underfunded” provision for pupils…

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Four out of five children in care have special educational needs | Education

Four out of five children taken into care in England during their school years required support for special educational needs (SEN) at some point between the ages of five and 16, according to research. The study, which examined data on almost half a million children who began school in September 2005, found that of the 6,240 children who entered the care system during their school years, 83% required additional SEN support. Researchers from UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child…

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Parents’ three-year battle to win support for their autistic son | Education

Like many nine-year-olds, Gyan Pansar lists riding his scooter, swimming and playing football among his favourite things to do. He is cheerful and inquisitive, and loves to be physically active. But it took three years of extreme will and determination for his parents to help Gyan, who is severely autistic, get to this stage. “Previously we couldn’t take him into any social situation because he’d just cry and flop on the floor. He was not a happy child,” said his…

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Some councils’ school transport costs nearly as high as child social care | Education

Councils in England have warned that home-to-school transport, on which many children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) depend, is under threat because of “unsustainable” costs and insufficient funding. A report commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) and County Councils Network has revealed that councils are spending more on home-to-school transport than they spend on children’s centres, family support or youth services. In some areas where the costs of transport are disproportionately high, often because of long distances…

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Special needs children are being failed | Letters | Education

This is the most damning select committee report I’ve ever read (Children with special needs plunged into ‘nightmare of bureaucracy’, 23 October). Line after line, it shows that the education system for disabled children is completely broken. Parents are forced to become protesters, lawyers and bureaucrats to stand any sort of chance of getting the support their child is legally entitled to. The government now has a golden opportunity to carry out a root and branch review of the system,…

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Special educational needs reforms ‘failing generation of children’ | Education

A cross-party committee of MPs has accused the government of failing a generation of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) in a damning new report which calls for radical change across the system. The report, by the education select committee, said ambitious government reforms, introduced in 2014 to improve the experiences of Send pupils and their families, had been poorly implemented with damaging consequences for many. Children had been left without the additional support they…

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Funding cuts take toll on support for visually impaired pupils | Education

Thousands of children and young people with vision impairment (VI) are being failed because of a shortage of funds for specialist education services, research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has found. Less than half (44%) of councils in England have either cut or frozen funding for educational support for VI children, putting specialist provision under significant pressure, according to the RNIB report. A similar proportion (43%) have already had reductions in specialist staff and increasing workloads…

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Pupils being propelled out of school system ‘in space of a day’ | Education

Pupils in England are being propelled out of schools and into home education, sometimes in the space of a single day, with little or no discussion beforehand and often without consulting the child, according a report by the schools watchdog. In some cases pupils are moved so quickly they are not even able to say goodbye to their friends. In other cases, parents complained that schools refused to allow children who were leaving to be educated at home to take…

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Families lose high court challenge over special needs funding | Education

Families who launched a landmark legal challenge to the government’s funding of services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) have lost their high court case. Three families, representing thousands of others across England, brought the action claiming that government budget decisions had left local authorities unable to fulfil their legal obligation to provide education to children with Send. A two-day hearing in June heard from lawyers representing the families that there was a substantial national shortfall in…

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Support for children with special educational needs ‘in crisis’ | Education

Services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) are in crisis, with families experiencing delays of up to 90 weeks and complaints at record levels, according to the local government and social care ombudsman. Ombudsman Michael King said the number of complaints from frustrated parents had gone up by 45% over a two-year period to 2019. Most concerning, he said, was that nine out of 10 complaints (87%) were upheld in the families’ favour, with councils criticised for…

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‘Shameful rise’: 18% of children now leave school as low achievers | Education

The number of children leaving school without basic qualifications by the age of 18 has risen by nearly a quarter in the past three years, according to a report by the children’s commissioner for England. Almost one in five children (18%) left school last year without the government benchmark of five good GCSEs, or the equivalent technical qualifications, a 24% increase since 2015, the study found. The figures for children with special educational needs are particularly stark with almost half…

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Special needs pupils ‘less likely to go from school nursery into its reception’ | Education

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) are significantly less likely to progress from a school’s nursery into its reception than their classmates who have no special needs, according to research. A study by the London School of Economics and Political Science found more than a quarter (26%) of children with a statement of Send move from the school where they attended nursery to another school for reception, compared with 18% of children with no recorded Send. The findings…

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