SEND consultation report ignores early years

The Education Select Committee has published its report on special educational needs and disability (SEND) following an 18-month inquiry. Education Select Committee

The report reveals that a generation of children with SEND are being failed and there is a lack of accountability. Poor implementation of the 2014 reforms has put local authorities under pressure and is throwing families and schools into crisis. 

The committee has made a number of recommendations including changes to address the addressed challenges. This should not be done by lessening other duties or laws. Other recommendations included a direct line to the Department for Education for when LAs are not complying with the law and an ombudsman to manage complaints. 

The report makes no reference to early years which is where early intervention can make the most difference.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “This is an important report by the Education Select Committee which highlights the concerns about local authority SEND funding that we see in early years too.

“Childcare providers and early years professionals are identifying additional needs early on in children’s lives, but often there are not sufficient services or resources to meet their individual needs and fully support them and their families. This is letting children down but also placing providers in the intolerable position of having to try to self-fund what support they can or think twice about whether they can support children with additional needs.

“Since reforms to EHC plans were introduced, the number of under-fives with a plan or a statement has risen by 11.3%, with a 54% increase in those children attending private, voluntary and independent (PVI) nurseries.

“Given the importance of getting this support right in early years, this vital piece of the jigsaw is surprisingly not covered in the Committee’s report. We know early intervention and support can have a huge impact on a child’s long term outcomes, so the Education Select Committee should look specifically at SEND in early years as a matter of urgency.”