£45m boost for young people with SEND – Friday 1 December 2017

This week I report on additional funding to help embed SEND reforms, a report indicating parental engagement could improve pupil progress and publication of a new Ofsted report suggesting reading should be central to the reception curriculum.

Government pledges £45 million to ‘fully embed’ SEND reforms
The Government has announced an extra £29 million for councils “to continue pressing ahead with implementation of the reforms to the SEND system.” A further £9.7 million will go on setting up “internship forums”, which will aim to create work placements for young people with SEND so they can move into paid work. The funding could also be used to train job coaches, said the Government’s release. Finally, £4.6 million will go towards parent-carer forums, which aim to give parents a voice in the processes involving children with SEND.

However, there was concern from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission back in October that pupils categorised as needing “SEN support” were getting a worse deal than those with a full Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). The summary report on local area inspections concluded that these children are more likely to have their needs overlooked, be excluded, and achieve less well than those with a legally binding EHCP.

Parental engagement ‘improves pupil progress’
A Sutton Trust report has found training staff to aid parents of disadvantaged pupils in getting involved with their education helps improve children’s progress. Results of a trial with 18 schools, where parents were provided with resources, showed a “boost to academic progress” in most schools.

Publication of a new Ofsted early years curriculum report called Bold Beginnings
Yesterday, a new report was published by Ofsted indicating a third of five year olds do not have the essential knowledge and understanding they need following their first year at school.  They say the picture for children from poorer homes is worse, with nearly half failing to gain necessary skills.

It recommends headteachers put reading at the heart of the reception curriculum, focus on developing children’s spoken language and teaching them to read using systematic synthetic phonics.  Ofsted is also recommending that the Department for Education:

  • reviews the Early Years Foundation Stage to make sure that it provides sufficient clarity for the effective teaching of reading, writing and numbers
  • streamlines the EYFSP in order to reduce teachers’ workload
  • raises the profile of early mathematics teaching, and makes a similar investment to that made in teaching phonics