Special education needs children being failed by education system

Nearly a quarter (24%) of children with special educational needs are not in school according to a poll of parents released at the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers section of the National Education Union.

The poll of over 440 parents shows over 40% of SEND pupils over the age of four are not in full-time school and half of parents are not happy about the type of provision their child is in.

Parents are struggling to get diagnosis of special needs for their children, with over a third (36%) having to wait over two years for their child to get a diagnosis, and half (50%) having to wait over a year.

And three quarters (74%) of parents complain that they are not given adequate support to help their child.

Parents say the things that would help their child most are more SEND provision (77%), it to be made easier to access support after their child has been diagnosed (72%) and shorter diagnosis times (58%).

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “It is appalling that so many children with special needs are not getting school places and are not getting the help they need. Parents of children with special needs have enough of a struggle without having to fight to get a diagnosis for their child or to get a school place. We know that 8,000 SEND children round the UK don’t currently have a school place – this simply is not good enough. The Government needs to get its act together and make sure these children receive the help and support they need.”


Further notes: 
Responses were collected from 444 parents in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The survey was carried out in April 2018.


Survey stats:

How much time does your child spend in school in an average school week? 444 responses

Full-time – 58.56%

Part-time – 8.78%

Not currently attending school at all – 24.10%

If part-time, please describe the arrangement – 8.56%


Is your child in the type of provision you want for them? 444 responses

Yes – 48.2%

No – 51.8%


How long did it take for your child to get the diagnosis? 439 responses.

Ongoing – 12.98%

0-6 months – 10.71%

6-12 months 15.03%

12-24 months – 12.76%

More than 2 years – 36.22%

Other – 12.30%


Do you feel that you are given adequate support to help your child? 444 responses

Yes – 18.47%

No – 74.10%

Other – 7.43%


What do you think would help to support your child? Please mark all that apply. 444 responses.

Shorter diagnosis times – 57.88%

More SEND provision – 76.8%

Help gaining EHCP – 45.27%

Easier access to support after diagnosis – 71.62%

Other – 36.49%



Press release
13 April 2018