‘There is too much of a tension between the child’s needs and the provision available. The significant funding shortfall is a serious contributory factor to the failure on the part of all involved to deliver on the SEND reforms and meet children’s needs’
Parents and carers have to wade through a treacle of bureaucracy, full of conflict, missed appointments and despair. We want to see a neutral role introduced, the purpose of which would be to arrange meetings, co-ordinate paperwork and be a source of impartial advice to parents. We believe that this would help reduce conflict in the system and remove much of the responsibility that seems to fall on parents’ shoulders.
We have found that many local authorities are struggling with the reforms, and in some cases this has led to unlawful practice. However, they are also struggling against the tide of unintended consequences of policy decisions. We pass no judgement on the merits of the Department’s free school policy, but current restrictions on a local authority’s ability to create new specialist settings does nothing to improve the educational experiences of young people with SEND and leads to more pupils entering the independent sector at significant cost to the taxpayer. There should be a level playing field for local authorities.
During our inquiry we met young people who told us about their experiences as young people with special educational needs and disabilities. We were encouraged by their confidence, determination and humour. But we were ultimately saddened by their experiences. This generation is being let down—the reforms have not done enough to join the dots, to bring people together and to create opportunities for all young people to thrive in adulthood. There are opportunities, such as supported internships and apprenticeships, out there, and there are young people out there who want to grab them with both hands. But these opportunities are limited, and there is not sufficient support, or sufficient emphasis on enabling them to achieve their hopes and dreams. We call on the Government to establish a ministerial-led cross-departmental working group to develop more employment and training opportunities for post-16 young people.