Ofsted has criticised the numbers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) not receiving adequate support and raised serious concerns over the number of vulnerable children being excluded from school.
In her annual report today, Ofsted’s chief inspector of education and children’s services Amanda Spielman said the quality of support for children with SEND is “disjointed and variable” with 30 of the 68 areas inspected ordered to make improvements.
“Critically, the gap in performance and outcomes for children with SEND is widening between the best and local areas,” she said.
The report added that “in too many cases the capacity for improvement does not exist with a lack of the right resources, a qualified workforce and strong leadership”.
Ms Spielman said there was a continuing trend of rising exclusions among children with SEND and mental health needs not being supported, while children and young people with autism are waiting up to two years to be diagnosed and receive no education during this period.
She said about 10,000 children had dropped off school rolls between years 10 and 11 in 2016-17 and could not be subsequently found registered at another state school.
The report highlighted improvements in children’s social care, with a reduction in the number of councils rated ‘inadequate’ and 60% improving their rating under the inspection of local authority children’s services framework (ILACS), which replaced the single inspection framework this year.
It added statutory children’s social care services had been largely protected despite councils experiencing “the most significant [funding] reductions across the public sector”. However, the report warned this meant councils are less able to intervene early in children’s lives.
“The evidence suggests that these cuts to youth and other services are a false economy, simply leading to greater pressures elsewhere,” the report said. “The recent experience of Northamptonshire [CC] should act as a cautionary tale of how the funding situation in local government, coupled with poor management, can lead to a rapid decline in the quality of children’s services.”