Children’s secretary Ed Balls today launched a “new and more ambitious vision” for children with special educational needs to boost expectations and outcomes.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families will invest £31m over two years in a pilot scheme to develop and highlight best practice in working with children with SEN. Balls also committed the government to take SEN and disability issues fully into account in all policy development.
SEN review extended
Balls also extended the remit of an ongoing review of SEN to cover the current requirements on schools and councils to provide information, to ensure they are sufficiently outcome-focused, promote transparency and meet the needs of parents.
Special Educational Consortium chair Brian Lamb, who is conducting the wider review, has told Balls that parents felt they had to “fight” the system to secure high-quality provision and reported a failure on the part of councils to comply with their SEN duties.
The information review, which will report next spring, may lead to some information requirements being dropped. It will also be linked to the implementation of the Special Educational Needs (Information) Act 2008, which is designed to tackle variations in the way councils collect information on SEN.
Lamb’s wider review, which is focusing on parental confidence in the SEN system, will report next autumn.
Government taking non-compliance seriously
Lamb welcomed the £31m in new funding and added: “Ed Balls is taking very seriously the fact that we haven’t got full compliance with the current SEN and disability requirements. Information is a crucial part of this and I’m very pleased that Ed Balls has asked the inquiry to undertake an investigation into the SEN information requirements on schools and local authorities.”