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Survey Of Primary And Secondary Leaders Suggests Systemic Issues Regarding SEN Provision

School leaders report shrinking budgets, lengthy waits for pupil assessments and insufficient SEN training for new staff

  • Survey Of Primary And Secondary Leaders Suggests Systemic Issues Regarding SEN Provision

According to a survey of school leaders published today by management and leadership support provider The Key, 82% of mainstream schools across England report having insufficient funding or budgets to adequately support pupils with SEND.

The survey’s results are based on the responses of 1,188 school leaders and highlight what appear to serious ongoing issues with regards to availability and provision of SEND support outside of specialist settings. Other key findings include the following:

All respondents
• 89% of those surveyed believe cuts to LA-provided services have negatively affected the support that their schools receive for pupils with SEND
• 75% reported that their school has pupils who have needed to wait longer than six weeks for an assessment of SEN or and an education, health and care plan (EHC) from their LA, contrary to the current SEND code of practice [PDF]
• 88% felt that initial teacher training fails to adequately prepare teachers for supporting pupils with SEND

Primary leaders
• 84% stated that their school’s budget was insufficient to cover their SEND provision
• 91% said that the support their schools receive for SEND provision had been affected by LA funding cuts
• 79% reported that pupils at their had been waiting longer than six weeks for a SEN assessment or EHC

Secondary leaders
• 70% expressed concern regarding their school’s funding and budget for SEND provision
• 81% reported experiencing diminished SEND support because of cuts to their LA
• 62% reported that pupils at their had been waiting longer than six weeks for a SEN assessment or EHC

Comments from respondents
Funding for pupils with SEN has become extremely difficult to access this academic year and this has a detrimental impact on staffing and the welfare of our pupils.

Teachers cannot possibly have or expect to gain knowledge, experience and skills to cope with the many differing needs of children now coming into school.

School funding is so stretched that schools are unable to absorb any additional staffing and funding demands for children with SEND. The direction the curriculum is taking is also becoming less and less inclusive for these children, meaning schools need to look at alternative interventions which cost money and teacher time.

The Key’s chief executive, Fergal Roche, said of the findings, “A year on from major reforms to the national system for SEND provision, these findings represent an important wake-up call from school leaders. Schools need adequate funding and a holistic, well co-ordinated and resourced system of support behind them to provide effectively for children with SEND.”

Also commenting on the picture painted by the survey was Octavia Holland, director of The Communication Trust: “It is deeply worrying what this report shows – that too often children are arriving at school lacking the basic skills they need to thrive.

“When asked the reasons for this lack of school readiness, 78% of Primary Headteachers responded that one of the most common reasons is due to delayed speech. We know that early language is crucial to a child’s development and it underpins a child’s ability to learn, form good relationships and achieve their potential, government needs to take note of these findings and review support for language for under 5s.”

For more information, visit www.thekeysupport.com or follow @TheKeySupport

Monday 6th June 2016 will see the launch of a new awareness campaign by The Key, dubbed ‘#SENDmatters’; further information and details of how to get involved can be found here

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