Weaknesses in SEND system worsened during lockdowns, Ofsted and CQC find

Thursday 24 June 2021

Tags: Covid-19, education, disabled children's partnership, special educational needs

Contact has welcomed findings from a new joint Ofsted and CQC report highlighting the plight of disabled children during lockdown. 

The report confirms stark findings from Disabled Children’s Partnership’s Left in Lockdown and No End in Sight reports, which revealed the devastating impact of the pandemic on disabled children and their families. 

The new report concludes that the many problems families experienced with the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) system before the pandemic have deepened during lockdowns.

Contact’s Chief Executive Amanda Batten said: “This is further evidence that the pandemic and lockdowns have had a devastating impact on disabled children and their families. 

“This report is the work of two key regulatory bodies confirming what families have known for some time: the SEND system is not working for many disabled children.

“We desperately need a dedicated funding and a Covid recovery plan specifically for disabled children to try to close the growing gap. The long-awaited SEND Review is an opportunity to make meaningful change and improvement to a system letting down many disabled children.”

In their report, Ofsted and the CQC said the pandemic had ‘highlighted and intensified’ pre-existing problems in the SEND system and deepened the effects of these flaws on children with SEND. 

Inspectors made 10 research visits to schools, healthcare providers and local authorities during Autumn 2020, speaking to schools, families and children. They found children with SEND often not receiving education and their parents and carers ‘frustrated and exhausted’. 

Services like physiotherapy and speech and language therapies had ceased, leaving children immobile and sometimes in pain or unable to communicate properly. Vital social care and health-funded respite for families had also been unavailable.  

The report concludes: “Few of the negative experiences that many children and young people with SEND and their families had during this time are new. Long-standing issues in the SEND system prior to the pandemic suggests many local areas have struggled to implement the 2014 SEND reforms successfully.”