Go back a step

Contact response to National Audit Office report on support for children with SEN in schools

Wednesday 11th September 2019

Today the National Audit Office has published a report warning that large numbers of children with SEN are not being adequately supported in schools.

The report shows there has been a significant increase in the number of children with SEN in recent years. Of the 1.3 million children with SEN in England 21% have an Education Health and Care Plan, setting out the support they need in school, but 79% do not.

Pupils with SEND, even without at plan, are eligible for additional support at school, but the report says they are vulnerable to not getting the help they need.

Jill Davies, SEN adviser on Contact's helpline, said: "Today's report from the National Audit Office, reflects what we are hearing from parents who call our helpline.

"More and more parents are being told by schools that they don't have the resources to support their child. The number of teaching assistants is being cut and it is harder than ever to access specialist help such as speech and language therapy. Without support in place some children with SEN end up being put on part-time timetables, excluded or develop emotional and mental health difficulties which affect their attendance. This has a terrible impact on their future life chances.

"The really challenging financial environment for schools, coupled with increasing numbers of children with SEN, means the system is really feeling the strain with children and their families bearing the brunt."

The warning comes after last week's government announcement of £700m extra for special needs - as well as a major review of support available for children with SEND and how it can be improved.

Contact is backing the Disabled Children's Partnership call to plug the funding gap to better support the health and care needs of disabled children in school and at home.