This government is committed to ensuring that every child – regardless of their circumstances – can benefit from their education, ensuring they have the knowledge and skills to fulfil their potential, and the resilience they need for future success.
Since 2010, thanks to government reforms and the hard work of teachers, we have made significant progress in raising standards in the education system. There are now 1.9 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools compared to 2010 and last year 154,000 more six-year-olds were on track to be fluent readers than in 2012.
Today, I am announcing a programme of work to improve our understanding of the educational experiences and outcomes of all children with additional needs, and those who live in challenging circumstances.
These children perform less well at school on average, are at greater risk of being excluded and are overrepresented in Alternative Provision. This is an overlapping cohort whose needs are often complex – many have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, or are children in need of help and protection and so are supported through the social care system. This work is about understanding what works for these children and spreading effective practice to ensure they can fulfil their potential.
This programme of work includes:
- An external review of school exclusions, led by former Children’s Minister Edward Timpson CBE. It will help us to understand how and why schools use exclusion, what drives the variation in exclusion rates and, particularly, the disproportionate exclusion rates of some groups – including black Caribbean boys, Children in Need, Looked After Children, and those with Special Educational Needs;
- Taking forward reforms to Alternative Provision (AP). AP educates children who are unable to attend mainstream or special schools, for example due to illness or exclusion. Today the government is publishing Creating Opportunity for All: Our Vision for Alternative Provision – it outlines our plan to ensure consistently high quality education is provided to all children in AP, across the country, and determine a clear role for AP as an integral part of the education system. This package includes a £4 million Innovation Fund to develop effective practice;
- Reviewing the outcomes of and support for Children in Need, as set out in our manifesto. We are already reforming children’s social care to improve children’s safety and stability, but our ambition must be for Children in Need to achieve their full potential. New data published today sets out the challenges they face, and their outcomes through school. The review will develop evidence to understand what works to improve these children’s educational outcomes in practice. This starts today with launching a call for evidence.
I will respond fully to the recommendations of Dame Christine Lenehan’s review of residential special schools, Good Intentions, Good Enough?, later this year. I will take that opportunity to set out how the government will continue working to achieve the vision of a reformed Special Educational Needs and Disabilities system, underpinned by the Children and Families Act 2014.
We will focus on what is effective – using evidence to implement successful policy, and to spread best practice. These measures should help to ensure that all children and young people benefit from their education, transforming their experiences and outcomes.
Creating Opportunity for All: Our Vision for Alternative Provision and Terms of Reference for the exclusions review will be placed in the House Libraries, and published on the Department for Education’s website. The website will also contain links to supporting documents for both the exclusions and Children in Need reviews.