SEND - Landmark year.
2019, a landmark year to change SEND students’ experiences in education?
The year of 2019 will probably be remembered for the never ending Brexit saga, the first picture of a black hole or for Greta Thunberg’s speech at the UN. However, for anyone that has an interest in the overwhelming difficulties that SEND students face in our educational system, 2019 has seen a real push in efforts to ensure that parliament has more than enough evidence that change is needed in this area. It is no news that SEND students face difficulties in our educational system on a daily basis, however is the research published in 2019 far too obvious to ignore?
The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Report
The ambition for Parliament to revolutionise the way in which SEND students experience the educational systems was described as “yet to realise” in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Report, published by the House of Commons Education Committee. The Report followed an 18 month enquiry in which the Committee found that SEND students and their parents have been failing to receive the support that they deserve. Some of the recommendations made included the suggestions of employing a fulltime SENCO worker in every school and to include a separate Ofsted judgment to look into SEND provisions.
The Timpson Review
The Timpson review, published in May 2019, similarly found that Parliament’s legislation relating to school exclusions, lacked cohesiveness and efficiency and saw the review make 30 recommendations following 14 months of research. The review found that, when it came down to the exclusion of a pupil, schools and the Local Authority did not adopt an appropriate and consistent exclusion policy across the country. It may be no surprise that the review found that exclusion measures adopted by schools were severely effecting SEND students above all.
The most recent exclusion statistics for state-funded schools published by the Department for Education in August 2019 demonstrate that the proportion of exclusions accounted for by pupils with SEN has indeed fallen by 2% from the statistics published in July 2018. However the statistics also show that a staggering 45% of all permanent exclusions and 43% of all fixed term exclusions reported are still accounted for by SEN students.
If we look at the report published by the Education Committee, the Timpson Review and the statistics produced, it is clear that SEND students are not given the right opportunities and access to education which every child has a right to. For a lot of parents going through the system, they probably didn’t need these reports to prove that. As negative and upsetting as these findings are, however, they show a move to report on the injustice that SEND students face in the educational system. Even though there has been no official move by Parliament to rectify the situation (yet!) we hope that the evidence produced is far too damning to ignore – that and the testimonies of families facing these trials on a day to day basis. The findings must therefore be seen as a positive step in the right direction, even though a long time coming.