MPs urge special educational needs system to be overhauled

The special educational needs system is ‘not fit for purpose’ and needs to be overhauled urgently MPs said today.

The Education & Skills Committee report found serious flaws within the SEN system regarding consistency of provision, the statementing process and teacher training.

It calls for a statutory requirement to be placed on local authorities to provide a broad range of flexible SEN provision, including high quality special schools, and for minimum standards to be introduced to stop parents from having to fight for services.

The MPs said that the government was giving out a confused message to councils as to whether pupils with SEN should be taught within special or mainstream schools. They argue that ministers need to clarify their position on inclusion and accept responsibility for any councils which close special schools thinking that is what the government wants them to do.

The report states that the 2004 SEN Strategy guidance to local authorities says that the ‘proportion of children educated in special schools should fall over time’. But when Lord Adonis appeared before the committee he claimed that the government had no policy of encouraging councils to close special schools.

The committee describes this situation as “not sufficient” and calls for ministers to be up-front about the change in their direction and produce a clear over-arching strategy for SEN.

It found inconclusive evidence as to whether academies were treating children with SEN unfairly.

Special Educational Needs Third Report of Session 2005-06 from:

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