Working together to value and support every SEND child is the key to enabling them to thrive and be successful. Staff need the time to work together and with other agencies, to develop inclusive approaches.

School safety updates

FAQs on Coronavirus in schools/colleges which address specific SEND issues are updated.

The latest information and advice for school staff who are at greater risk from Covid is here.

The Joint Union Safety Checklist for Schools has been updated to support leaders to put in place appropriate measures that will keep both students and staff safe. Government guidance permits leaders to adopt additional proportionate safety measures where they wish to do so. This checklist sets out a range of measures that we urge settings to adopt as standing practice, subject to review at half-term.

Despite decades of research into enabling inclusive education, many students with SEND face multiple barriers to learning. School and college staff are not given the tools or access to other experts which make inclusion easier.

Central government has also not acted on numerous reviews into the perspectives of parents and carers and the benefits of school/home partnerships, that showed the necessary improvements to curriculum, funding and class size.

The Government must address five immediate challenges on inclusion:

  • Needs led funding for SEND support; education, health and care (EHC) plans and local SEND and mental health services
  • A strategy to reduce SENCO workload
  • Support staff numbers to be maintained and increased
  • Time for staff planning, family liaison and CPD
  • The DfE must support knowledge exchange and developing professional skills around inclusion across all curriculum subjects

And four goals to build positive experiences for learners with SEND:

  • Every child /young person attends a school/college with an inclusive ethos
  • Every student is assessed early and regularly for learning and social and emotional needs and appropriate support can be provided
  • Every child/young person has a strong relationship with a trusted adult in school/college
  • Parents/carers are engaged partners

Promoting disability equality

The Government’s National Disability Strategy emphasises the importance of implementing the social model of disability, focusing on removing the barriers faced by Disabled people, staff and students. 

The social model requires society to adapt, not individual Disabled people, with holistic change across education and national policies on curriculum, assessment an accountability.

Current DfE advice on discipline and behaviour may undermine a commitment to disability equality and better outcomes for students with SEND.

It will require more investment and imagination than the Government are proposing in the current strategy.

Creating access for students with SEND involves more than making a few adaptations for SEND students. Funding to create smaller class sizes and to maintain and increase SEND support staff is necessary for the system to be maintained at current levels. 

To effectively achieve the step-change that is needed to improve the life chances of SEND young people the Government need to listen to education professionals and families, be prepared to adopt a wider vision for education and make a commitment to the long-term funding needed to really make a difference.

SENCO Workload

  • 55% of primary SENCOs and 70% of secondary SENCOs are not allocated enough time to complete their role effectively
  • 66% of SENCOs are still not part of the school senior leadership team
  • Over a quarter of SENCOs cite workload as a reason for leaving the role

(National SENCO Workforce Survey 2021-NASEN/Bath Spa University)

What should the government do to reduce SENCO workload?

  • Ensure SENCOs all have qualified teacher status and sufficient time (according to numbers of SEND pupils) to support class staff and conduct meaningful meetings with families and other professionals
  • Require schools to make SENCOs part of the SLT
  • Ensure funding is in place in schools so that all SENCOs can be provided with administrative support

Reducing workload and targeting staff time on the activities which are most fruitful will benefit all staff. Get involved with reducing staff workload.

SEND Support Staff

  • Provide essential additional support for SEND students
  • Are often the key liaison between school and families of SEND students – and have played a key role in supporting home –school relationships during Covid
  • Have faced large scale redundancy due to government funding cuts to school budgets which has left many SEND students without the small group and 1:1 support that provided the opportunity for them to thrive in mainstream education
  • Need fair contracts, pay and recognition by government of the important role they play in working with SEND students

SEND and Behaviour

Sanction-based systems of behaviour management have a highly negative and exclusionary impact on SEND students.  Following the Covid pandemic and the governments emphasis on catch up SEND students are facing greater pressures with reduced support from specialist TAs, LSAs and mental health professionals.

Government needs to align its review of the behaviour and exclusions advice more closely with the promised SEND Review and the Mental Health strategy to make a difference to prevent and reduce the suspension, isolation and exclusion of SEND students.  To achieve this the government will need to:

  • Support SENCOs by considering the recommendations of the SENCO workload survey
  • Ensure timely access to SEND assessment and diagnosis
  • Fund CAMHS properly so that children and young people can be seen quickly at the time of most need and schools can signpost with confidence that a student will receive mental health support
  • Allow schools flexibility around the curriculum offer for SEND students and reduce assessment pressures
  • Ensure funding levels allow schools to maintain and increase support staff and pastoral staff

Advice on updating your school behaviour policy and NEU advice on behaviour