Dan Peters 05 May 2020

MPs tell department to 'get a grip' on SEND

The Department for Education (DfE) does not have a grip on mounting pressure in the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system, a watchdog has found.

A report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said MPs remained to be convinced that the department had ‘sufficient grip on what needs to be done to tackle the growing pressures on the SEND system.

Joint Ofsted and Care Quality Commission inspections have found that half of local authority areas have ‘significant weaknesses’.

The department blamed standards issues on the increasingly ‘challenging’ financial situation councils and schools faced.

It has accepted that it did not think enough about how difficult it would be to put in place a completely new system following the Children and Families Act 2014.

The publication of a major review of SEND provision that promises to improve services and address the ‘postcode lottery’ that children and families often face has been put back to an unknown date as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

A DfE spokesman added: ‘Our SEND review will look at how to improve the whole system for those children, young people and their families, who need additional help to access the support they need.’

The PAC report said the department had given ‘few details’ about the review.

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