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Empty Promises: The crisis in supporting children with SEND

NAHT represents over 28,000 school leaders across the UK and were one of the first to raise alarm over the school funding crisis hitting schools across the UK. Independent experts have been adding their voices to the picture, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies revealed that between 2009/10 and 2017/18, total school spending in England fell by 8% per pupil in real terms.

In addition to cuts to school funding, cuts to health and social care provision now often leave teachers at the front line in supporting a range of children’s needs, including those with special educational needs (SEN). The funding crisis in schools is not just about cuts to education budgets, but the cost to the most vulnerable children of cuts to a range of critical support services.

It is against this backdrop that in the summer of 2018, NAHT sought the views of school leaders on their experiences in relation to the education of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This report uses our findings to call on the government to address the funding shortage for these children, which is now at crisis point.

Key findings

• Only 2% of respondents said that the top up funding they received was sufficient to meet individual education health and care plans (EHCPs) or statements for pupils with SEND.

• 94% of respondents are finding it harder to resource the support required to meet the needs of pupils with SEND than they did two years ago.

• 73% of respondents said it was harder to resource support for pupils with SEND due to cuts to mainstream funding, as cuts to teaching assistants and pastoral staff have had a major impact on schools supporting their most vulnerable pupils.

• 70% of respondents said that cuts to health and social care budgets were making it harder to support the needs of children with SEND in the last two years.

• 83% of respondents reported not receiving ANY funding from health and social care budgets to support pupils with statements or EHCPs.

• 30% of respondents don’t receive services from health and social care to support their pupils.

• There are long delays for pupils to be assessed, with 15% of respondents waiting over six months from referral for an EHCP assessment, and 39% waiting over six months from referral for an EHCP to be produced.

• EHCPs are not accurate when produced, with less than a third (32%) of respondents reporting that EHCPs accurately reflect and help to address the needs of their pupils with SEND.

• 75% of respondents said that professionals from health and social care don’t attend annual reviews and meetings enough to provide the support needed.