The Green Paper says life chances for the two million children in England with a disability or identified with SEN are “disproportionately poor.” Young people with SEN are twice as likely not to be in education, training or employment than others.
“But properly supported from childhood, many of these barriers should not hold young people back from leading a fulfilling adolescence and adulthood.
The kind of day-to-day support that can help children and young people who are disabled or who have SEN to fulfil their potential varies hugely. Excellent classroom practice with skilled teachers is sufficient for many; others will need expert, but time-limited, support such as speech and language therapy; and some will need 24-hour personal care with input from specialists across health and social care,” says the report.
These children, says the paper, can feel isolated and unable to get on at school without a welcoming environment “and the right approach in place. They feel frustrated that the barriers they face aren’t understood so they can learn and enjoy school, and enjoy the best possible quality of life.”
The paper says “radical reforms” are necessary to support children and young people who are disabled or have SEN. The Government’s “ambitious programme of public service reform” will, it says, provide “a strong platform” for this.
Schools, say the government, have been part of the problem. Teachers have not always had the training to identify children’s needs or provide the right help, while head teachers have been overwhelmed with top-down initiatives rather than having the freedom to drive improvements. There have been “perverse incentives” to over-identify children as having SEN, with the label perpetuating a culture of low expectations without the right support being put in place.