From education to employment

Disabled children have 50:50 chance of the right support as over half of local areas fail SEND inspections

  • New data shows that 51 out of 100 local councils and health services have failed the inspection of their support for children with special educational needs and disabilities.
  • 11 of those that failed have now been re-inspected, with six failing again.
  • More than a third of England’s 151 local areas are yet to even be inspected.
  • 1.3 million disabled children are now facing just a 50:50 chance of getting the support they need.
  • The National Deaf Children’s Society is asking Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to explain how failures will be addressed and calling for more money to be immediately delivered to front line services.

More than half of local areas in England are failing inspections of their support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

According to figures collated by the National Deaf Children’s Society, 100 of England’s local councils and healthcare providers have now had their joint service inspected by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and 51 have failed.

With more than a third still to be inspected for the first time, campaigners say the situation is looking bleak for children with special needs across England.

During the first 50 inspections, 21 (42%) failed to meet the required standard for supporting disabled children. For the next 50, the failure rate increased to 60% after 30 fell short of the required standard.

When a local area fails its joint SEND inspection, a Written Statement of Action is then required to outline how its “significant areas of weakness” will be addressed.

Areas that fail their inspection also have to be re-inspected to demonstrate how they have urgently improved the situation.

However, six of the 11 that have been re-inspected after failing the first time have since failed again.

The National Deaf Children’s Society says the figures paint a damning picture of the SEND system across England.

As a result, the charity is now calling on Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to urgently explain what action will be taken to ensure the broken SEND system becomes fit-for-purpose.

It wants the Government to immediately deliver on its announcement of an additional £700m special needs education, with money delivered quickly to the front line for additional support staff.

The National Deaf Children’s Society also says the Government should extend funding for inspections from the current five years until every disabled child is receiving the support they need.

Deaf children already achieve an entire grade less than their hearing classmates on average, even though deafness is not a learning disability, and the charity says this is clear evidence that they are being let down by the system they rely on.

Steve Haines, Executive Director at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:

“These figures show that support for children with SEND is falling woefully short. This support isn’t a privilege or a luxury, it’s a legal right, but these children are now relying on a system where their chances of getting what they need are no better than 50:50.

“Make no mistake, this is a system in crisis and it’s completely unacceptable in a compassionate society. If more than half of schools, hospitals or fire stations were failing, there would be a national outcry.

“This shocking rate of failure simply cannot be tolerated and Gavin Williamson must now act on the promises he’s made to disabled children by getting the new funding straight to the front line and demonstrating exactly how he will fix this broken system.

“Disabled children have an incredible amount to offer, but they need the right support along the way. It’s time to sign the cheques, outline the strategy and get on with the job of delivering for every disabled child in this country.”

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