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Special educational needs assessment system a “roll of the dice” as families seeking support face a postcode lottery, new study shows

19 Mar 2021|12:36

A new landmark study from the Education Policy Institute (EPI), Identifying pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), has highlighted “deeply concerning” inconsistencies in how children with SEND in England are identified and supported.

The research, which is the first ever study to fully quantify how SEND support varies nationally, shows that access to support is decided by a “postcode lottery” – with the chances of receiving SEND support from the school or from the local authority largely dictated by the school that a child attends, rather than their individual circumstances.

Speaking about the findings, Professor Adam Boddison, CEO of nasen said: "One of the most significant factors contributing to the variation in identification of SEND is the lack of any national articulation of what ordinarily-available provision should consist of. This means that the inclusive schools that are proactive with identification become SEND magnets, whilst it is difficult to hold the non-inclusive schools to account. 

"The global pandemic has heightened pre-existing problems as highlighted in EPI's findings and this echoes the findings of our recent National SENCO Workload study, developed with Bath Spa University. This study, published in January, also found that areas of strength in the sector were amplified. As a charitable membership organisation, nasen is committed to ensuring that our expertise in SEND is available to every school and setting in the UK so that we can support all children, particularly those with SEND and learning differences."

Read the full report of the study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, here.

Professor Adam Boddison was quoted in a Nursery World article on this report here.

Source for National SENCO Workload Survey (Jan 2021):