On 23 October, the Education Select Committee – a cross-party group of MPs – published their long-awaited report into the Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) reforms in England. Their inquiry ran for over a year, with 12 oral evidence sessions and more than 700 written submissions, including many from parents. The DCP made a written submission and both our chair, Amanda Batten, and our campaign manager, Stephen Kingdom, gave oral evidence. Many individual DCP organisations gave evidence as well.
Responding to the committee’s report, DCP chair and CEO of Contact, Amanda Batten said: “Parent carers we talk to every day tell us about their concerns about their child’s education and their frustrations about accessing the support they are entitled to. Today’s Education Committee’s damning report won’t come as any surprise for the families we support, who often find themselves facing a complex and frustrating web of systems and uncoordinated services to get the help they desperately need for their child. Many of the themes will also be familiar to Parent Carer Forums across the country, who have been working hard to try and ensure that the reforms deliver for children locally in a challenging environment.
“It’s vital that the committee’s recommendations are now acted upon. The Government is currently carrying out its own SEN review and this is a timely opportunity to work with parents to take the committee’s findings forward, so we can ensure that children with SEND get the education they deserve.”
Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
“Despite the good intentions of the reforms, many children with special educational needs and disabilities are being let down day after day. Many parents face a titanic struggle just to try and ensure their child gets access to the right support.
“Families are often forced to wade through a treacle of bureaucracy, in a system which breeds conflict and despair as parents try to navigate a postcode lottery of provision. A lack of accountability plagues the system as local authorities, social care and health providers too frequently seek to pass the buck rather than take responsibility for providing support.
“Children and parents should not have to struggle in this way – they should be supported. There needs to be a radical change to inspection, support for parents, and clear consequences for failure to ensure the 2014 Act delivers as the Government intended.”
You can read the full report and recommendations here.