Children, Schools and Families Committee

4 February 2008

Government response to special needs report 'missed opportunity', say MPs

The Children, Schools and Families Committee has today published the Government's reply to its predecessor committee's report on Special Educational Needs: Assessment and Funding. The Chairman of the Committee, and former Chairman of the Education and Skills Committee, Barry Sheerman MP, said:

"As a Committee we believe the Government's response is a missed opportunity. We welcome some of the commitments the Government makes, but we are very disappointed at its reply on the major issue.

"It appears that the Government is still unwilling to concede that a national framework for special needs education, and provision maps for each area, should be introduced to make the system more transparent and allow parents to make more informed decisions. For the Government to say that the SEN Code of Practice provides the national framework is to misunderstand what the Committee recommended. We were seeking a framework for provision, not a framework for procedure.

"However, we welcome the establishment of the group under Brian Lamb to look at ways of increasing parental confidence in the system, the pilot the Government promises on making assessment more holistic in line with the principles of the Common Assessment Framework, and the promise of guidance on the role of educational psychologists.

"I have no doubt that the review of SEN by Ofsted in 2009 will make recommendations for significant changes to the way in which children's special educational needs are met. I hope that the Government will be willing to act on any such recommendations at that time. In the meantime, it will be our duty as a Committee to continue to hold the Government to account on this key issue."