[Skip to content]

NAHT - For Leaders, For Learners
Search our Site
SEN review exposes policy shortcomings
News icon

SEN review exposes policy shortcomings rather than school failures

female teacher helping young girl with text book

Today's Ofsted report mixes insight and fallacy in equal measure. NAHT acknowledges the validity of many of the recommendations made in Ofsted’s report on SEN in schools and welcomes its focus on outcomes rather than processes. However, school leaders expressed regret that Ofsted have chosen to criticise schools for following local and national government recommendations.


Russell Hobby, General Secretary NAHT comments as follows:


“For years, schools have been encouraged to identify children with special educational needs / disability and to provide for them ‘differently’. Individual learning plans, one-to-one tuition and specialist external support have, largely thanks to Government rhetoric, become the expectation of any parent whose child is experiencing difficulties. Schools have struggled to provide these resources, despite their financial and educational implications, only to be criticised for not using a more inclusive pedagogy, raising expectation and using whole class participation.


We would also suggest that Ofsted need to recognise that poverty, neglect and emotional deprivation can have such a significant impact on a child’s readiness or ability to engage with formal teaching and learning that identification as SEN may well be appropriate, as that child undoubtedly will need additional support.


Ofsted are independent, but they are far from infallible. Whilst an Inspector may not believe that child is in need of a statement, their assessment is by necessity based on a snap-shot analysis. Teachers and parents may have a very different impression of a child’s needs based on holistic assessment over a period of weeks, months or years.


There is no evidence in the report of systematic over-statementing of children in order to gain additional resources or improve performance scores. Teachers want children to get what they deserve and, together with parents and the children themselves, fight hard to achieve this. We should not find this surprising or reprehensible.


We welcome the opportunity the Government Green Paper affords those hoping to improve outcomes for young people with SEND and we look forward to discussing our ideas with Government later this term. “



Page Published: 14/09/2010