The Commons Education Select Committee’s inquiry into Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) has suggested that the SEND system creates a conflict of interest for local authorities (LA). This rationale is rooted in the fact that LA’s are responsible for drawing up education, health and care plans (EHC), while simultaneously being responsible for funding the aforementioned provision. Essentially, LA’s are expected to fulfil their duty by providing appropriate provisions for children with SEND with limited budgets.
Penny Hoffman-Becking, a parent of a child with cerebral palsy, stated: “A lot of the antagonistic behaviour comes from the local authority being caught between the law, which says it’s a needs-based system, and the funding, which is a ration system”. It was recommended that parents, particularly those with less knowledge on how to work the system to their benefit, would benefit from key workers who would provide independent advice and support for such parents.
The points put forward by the inquiry came as Ofsted's annual report highlighted a worrying gap in SEND provisions. The report found that more than 4,000 children with an approved EHC plan had received no provision in 2017. Additionally, around 30% of 19,000 pupils who disappeared from school rolls were pupils with SEND.