Some children with special educational needs and disabilities are missing out on help to support their learning in mainstream schools, Ofsted has warned.
The Ofsted report finds that specialist support from multi-agency services often complements the support offered by schools. While families and school staff value this external support, it is not always timely or implemented appropriately.
"Many children and young people with SEND have found it harder to engage with remote education during the pandemic, so getting the support right for these pupils is more important than ever. This research shows that high-quality education for these children is underpinned by a good understanding of their individual needs, and strong relationships between families and schools. Effective joint work between schools and other services, especially including health, is also critical to children’s learning and development," said Sean Harford, Ofsted’s National Director for Education.
Many of the schools and families participating in the research had experienced long wait times and high levels of bureaucracy in the education, health and care (EHC) plan process. Families were often commissioning or paying for additional services themselves. This suggests that the playing field is not level for pupils from poorer backgrounds.
Ofsted’s report, carried out during the spring term of 2019 to 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic, found:
"The findings from this research will be really valuable as we continue to build on our inspection practice and develop the new area SEND inspection framework," said Sean Harford.
The report was based on interviews with pupils, parents, teachers, support staff and leaders from a sample of schools across two local authorities, where representatives from the local authorities and clinical commissioning group were also interviewed. The findings are based on a small number of case studies. Therefore, they are not necessarily reflective of the wider population of pupils with SEND.
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