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Education Committee publishes SEND inquiry report – our reaction

Published Date: 23 Oct 2019

“This generation is being let down—the [2014 SEND] 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”, says the Education Select Committee as it publishes its report on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). We couldn’t agree more.

The Committee, which is a cross-party group of MPs, have been scrutinising how effectively our education system has been performing since widespread changes to the SEND system were introduced in England in 2014.

Since then, over a third of services have cut their education budgets for deaf children, a loss of over £6.6m. On average, these local authorities have cut their budgets by 17%, but I’m not placing blame – many of these councils are stretched to breaking point by inadequate funding from central Government.

The Education Committee already sent a clear message when it published its report on school and college funding, saying that SEND funding is “completely inadequate”. They called for increase of over £1bn in high needs funding.

Now, the committee has given the Government a strong set of recommendations, including:

  • A more rigorous inspection framework for local authorities, with clear consequences for failure and a greater focus on SEND in school inspections.
  • A direct line for parents and schools to appeal directly to the Department for Education where local authorities appear not to be complying with the law.
  • Developing more post-16 employment and training opportunities for disabled young people.

It’s great to see that these reflect what we at the National Deaf Children’s Society have continued to call for. We believe that it is essential that deaf children and their families are directly involved in change and decisions which affect them. We think detailed SEND inspections provide much needed scrutiny of the system, and post-16 support for deaf young people needs to be adequately funded.

We’re also pleased that the Committee has highlighted the contributions of deaf young people to their enquiry. Across the charity, we shared insights and presented a robust case for investment in deaf education. Two members of our Young People’s Advisory Board gave evidence to the Committee earlier this year, alongside three rounds of written evidence, evidence I gave in person and many individual meetings and correspondence with MPs on the Committee. We’re now prepared to be part of the solution, through the recently announced SEND review.

These recommendations have been delivered to Government and it is now in their hands to turn those recommendations into decisive action. The futures of many deaf children rest upon it.

Steve Haines

Steve is Executive Director of Policy and Campaigns at the National Deaf Children’s Society.