SEN crisis robbing children of their right to an education

4 March 2024

Four years on from the launch of our “Too Little, Too Late” (TLTL) Review of SEND provision in mainstream schools, the commitment from authorities for transformation and progress on implementing our recommendations is painstakingly slow.

Our third monitoring report, launched today (Monday 4th March), has revealed only 25% of the recommendations appear to have clear progress over the course of the last four years.

Of the 40 recommendations, NICCY has found only 11 to have ‘clear progress evident’.

We also found there to be ‘fledgling progress’ across 28 of the recommendations.

One recommendation which revealed ‘no evidence of progress’ over the past four years was the provision of a comprehensive range of therapeutic interventions.

This was to include nurture groups, sensory rooms, and counselling in all primary settings which should be made available to children and young people in mainstream settings.

In 2020, we highlighted the challenges faced by the SEND system, which struggled to meet the growing and diverse needs in mainstream schools.

The recent strain on the system has been worsened by educational funding crises, leading to cuts in both the SEND transformation budget and broader funding.

The decrease in the SEND Transformation Programme (TP) budget has hindered the progress and scope of work essential for implementing our recommendations and transforming the SEND system effectively.

Commissioner for Children and Young People, Chris Quinn, said: “Since coming into post in September last year, I have spoken with hundreds of families with children who have SEND.

“In every conversation I have with parents, the same issues arise time and time again regarding lack of communication, and lack of specialist support available for their children.

“Our monitoring report today highlights that these issues are not being addressed and progressed at an acceptable rate.

“The setback on the SEND Transformation Programme is hugely disappointing, especially as the urgency for systemic enhancements is higher than ever, with schools dealing with a rise in pupils with SEND and more complex needs.

“Despite recognising the limitations in resources and acknowledging the commitment of relevant authorities to transform and progress the implementation of our recommendations and wider transformation, their progress remains unacceptably slow.

“While we appreciate the groundwork laid for transformational change, such as reviews, data collection, research, stakeholder engagement, there is a need for robust front facing actions to translate into tangible improvements for children with SEND.

“I would urge the new Executive to work together to effectively address the urgent need for provision and ensure sustainable and long-term financial investment in this system.”

NICCY recognises the work done and initiatives begun since the last monitoring report in 2023, to prepare for transformation, particularly the progress in preparing to establish multi-disciplinary local integrated teams (LITs) from September 2024.

The Commissioner continued: “Moving forward, it is crucial to secure the necessary changes and allocation of resources to expedite the long overdue transformation of our SEND system and not be robbing our children of their right to an education.”

“Setting clear achievable targets is essential for monitoring progress and evaluating the positive impact on children’s needs.”

NICCY will continue to monitor progress, address issues and advocate for children with SEND to achieve their full potential.

Read the full monitoring report here. You can also view the monitoring table here.