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Public Accounts Committee publish damning findings from their SEND enquiry

Wednesday 6 May 2020

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published the findings of its recent enquiry into the Department for Education’s (DfE) SEN strategy.

Commenting on the report, PAC Chair Megan Hillier MP said pupils with SEND "deserve the same quality of education and to get the same value from our education system as their peers.

"Disturbing disparities in identifying pupils with SEND, and in provision for them, point to underlying problems that can only be addressed through proper data collection and information.

"These children, already facing extra hurdles and challenges in this life, must not find themselves discriminated against several times over."

The report makes urgent six recommendations to DfE to improve provision for pupils with SEND, including publishing the DfE SEND review launched in 2019 as soon as possible, developing a better understanding of disparities in support, setting out plans to reduce exclusions of SEND pupils, using intel from Regional Schools Commissioners, parent groups and heads, using funding mechanisms more effectively, and analysing school places demand and develop costed plan to meet the need.

Helen Boden, CEO, British Dyslexia Association, said: "This is the latest in a long line of reports highlighting that DfE is failing pupils with SEND.

"Schools simply do not have the money to provide early diagnosis and appropriate support to young people with dyslexia. Over 80 percent of young people with dyslexia are leaving school without a diagnosis. This leads to those young people being unable to fulfill their potential in education. This holds them back in the careers and all too often leads to behavioral and emotional issues. A young person with dyslexia is three and half times more likely to be excluded and 32 to 56 percent of prisoners show signs of dyslexia.

"Every school needs a Specialist Dyslexia Teacher Assessor to identify early, develop a support strategy, and give classroom teachers the skills and knowledge to support dyslexic pupils. If this were to happen, the families of most young people with dyslexia would never consider an EHCP.

"Whilst the EHCP system is good in theory, in practice it has been an unmitigated disaster. Poor provision in schools means parents are all too often left with no option but to fight for months or years through the EHCP system. The reality is, if a parent is not confident with advocating through this complex and intimidating system, and can’t afford specialist legal support, they are at an incredible disadvantage. This is an issue of social justice.

"There is a better way. Embedding support on the front line will most importantly mean young people with dyslexia, regardless of the means of their parents, will have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. But also it will, over time, reduce the cost to the UK of unnecessary use of the expensive and convoluted EHCP system, behavioral and emotional challenges leading to exclusions and criminality, and lower attainment in work.

"We welcome the SEND review launch by DfE in 2019, but, as the PAC says, DfE need to push the finds urgently. Those findings need to be bold and focused on ensuring young people with SEND can fulfil their potential regardless of the means of their parents."