25 October 2007
MPS DEMAND URGENT IMPROVEMENTS IN ASSESSMENT AND FUNDING FOR SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
The Education and Skills Committee today publishes its report on Special Educational Needs: Assessment and Funding, and urges the Government to take immediate action to separate assessment from funding as a way of increasing parental confidence in special needs support.
The report also calls for much greater transparency in how money for children with special needs is spent, and asks the Government for an explicit commitment to provide a national framework for special educational needs. It also wants the Government to identify the impact of the Common Assessment Framework on special needs provision.
This follow-up inquiry was held because of the Committee's dissatisfaction with the Government's response to its earlier report into Special Educational Needs (SEN), and in particular its assertion that separation of assessment and funding of special educational needs would require the creation of a new quango.
The most practical solution suggested during the inquiry is for local authorities or Children's Trusts to commission assessments. Two further proposals discussed by the Committee are to delegate greater responsibility for assessment to schools, and to increase the independence of educational psychology services.
Funding of special needs provision remains an issue and the report highlights the need for transparency. The Committee asks the Government to make an early statement on how money from the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review will be used to improve special needs services, and what guidance it will give to local authorities and schools to ensure money for special needs is spent on special needs.
The Committee also calls on the Government to make explicit commitments to provide a national framework for special educational needs and to require local authorities to publish provision maps for each area.
The Chairman of the Education and Skills Committee, Mr Barry Sheerman MP, said:
"We were very disappointed in the Government's response to our original report on SEN, which seemed to demonstrate an unwillingness to consider alternative ways of addressing vital issues on assessment of need and service provision. Children with special educational needs and their families deserved better.
Evidence to this follow-up inquiry has demonstrated that assessment of need could be made more independent of funding of provision without introducing a whole new bureaucratic structure, contrary to the Government's assertion. We expect that this time we will receive a more considered response."