DfE’s weak response to excoriating Guardian editorial re SEND support in England

Janet Downs's picture

There’s an ‘urgent need’ to restore confidence in the system which supports provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in England, writes the Guardian in an excoriating editorial.

The paper cited the highly-critical report by cross-party MPs into SEND provision in England.  ‘As a country we can – and must – do better than this,’ the Guardian says.

The Department for Education’s media section responded weakly by saying Ofsted’s new inspection regime had a ‘strong focus on provision and outcomes’ for SEND pupils.  This was followed by cut-and-pasted comments from the DfE robot (sorry, spokesperson) about not holding children back ‘from reaching their potential’, about increasing local authorities’ high needs budgets by £780m and about improvements in the SEND system made in 2014 being the ‘right ones’.  

The DfE is in denial about the crisis in the SEND system in England.  It’s not enough to say reforms five years ago were well-intentioned and necessary when their implementation has been disastrously poor and inadequately funded.  Neither is it acceptable to ignore the awkward fact that post-2010 policies such as academization, accountability and free schools have contributed to an increasing marginalization of SEND pupils. 

No doubt the prime minister thinks such pupils and young people will forever be at the bottom of the cornflake packet – thoroughly shaken and crushed.


EXTRA: See Warwick Mansell for discussion of the MPs’ conclusion that ‘government policies on autonomy, results and free schools [are] contributing to the “failing” special needs system’ here (behind paywall). 

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