Commenting on the inspectorate’s third and final set of reports on the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on children and young people, Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary of the National Education Union, said:   

"It is hugely concerning that Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) children are not doing as well as their peers in terms of coping with remote learning. However, the playing field is not level in terms of students having access to IT equipment at home. Many SEND students will require assistive technology and programmes which schools are unable to provide.  

"We know that repeated periods of isolation will be harmful to students in general, but particularly for those with SEND, and that the lack of access to external support services, such as speech & language therapies and delays to assessment processes and EHC plans, is having a harmful effect on young people. This again is not the fault of schools, but of a Government which is consistently underfunding SEND support. Ensuring every child gets the education they deserve and need cannot be done on the cheap. 

"We are concerned that more children are being taken out of school to be home-schooled because of parental concerns about Covid safety, increasing unsupported mental health issues and undiagnosed special needs due to CAMHS and local authority services cuts. Many parents of pupils who need mental health support and do not get it remove their children due to fears of being fined or worse. We agree that Ofsted is right to be concerned about these out of sight students and believe that they should be pressing the government to improve mental health services and support to these schools, young people and families, many of whom have reached a crisis point made worse by Covid."