Public Accounts Committee

Support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in England inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Due to the general election on 12 December 2019 the Committee has now closed this inquiry. Following the dissolution of Parliament on 6 November, all Select Committees will cease to exist until after the general election. If an inquiry on this subject is held in the future, the Committee may refer to the evidence already gathered as part of this inquiry.

Scope of the inquiry

Around 1.3 million pupils in England (14.9% of all pupils) have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), which means that they have a learning difficulty or disability that requires special educational provision. Pupils with SEND are among the most vulnerable in the school system.

The system for supporting children and young people with SEND changed in September 2014. The Government’s reforms aimed to: identify children’s needs earlier; allow families to be more involved in decisions affecting them; improve integration of education, health and social care services; and for support to remain in place up to the age of 25 where appropriate.

The National Audit Office’s (NAO) recent report found that some pupils with SEND receive high quality support, that meets their needs, whether in mainstream schools or special schools. However, many other pupils are not being supported effectively, and those who do not have Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans are particularly exposed. The report concludes that the system for supporting pupils with SEND is not financially sustainable and many local authorities are failing to meet the demand for support within their high-needs budgets.

This inquiry will consider whether children with SEND are being supported effectively and the outcomes of that support; and the funding, spending and financial sustainability of SEND support.

The Committee plans to take oral evidence from Philippa Stobbs, Assistant Director, Council for Disabled Children; Richard Kramer, Vice Chair, Disabled Children’s Partnership, and Chief Executive, Sense; and a parent representative, National Network of Parent Carer Forums, on Monday 30 September. A further oral evidence session with the Department for Education will take place in October or early November.

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