A busy end to the school year sees three new reports published this week all reflecting recommendations made by Driver Youth Trust: 

Education Committee report on Alternative Provision

The Committee has published their fifth report of the 2017 session: Forgotten children: alternative provision and the scandal of ever-increasing exclusions. 

The report expresses concerns about the over-exclusion of pupils and at the ‘alarming’ increase in ‘hidden exclusions’ where children are internally isolated, or informally excluded. The Committee recommends a series of measures which can act as a ‘Bill of Rights’ for pupils and their parents.

The Committee drew upon DYT’s written and oral evidence to recognise the concerning rise in the number of SEND learners being excluded from mainstream schools. We also welcome that the Committee has adopted our call to “look into ways to incentivise schools to support SEND learners and be as inclusive as possible” by recommending that “The Government and Ofsted should introduce an inclusion measure or criteria that sits within schools to incentivise schools to be more inclusive” (recommendation 5, page 40).

DYT’s Director of Education, Jules Daulby said: “This report highlights the worrying increase in exclusion figures and we welcome the Committee’s comments on preventing exclusions and recognising that rewarding inclusion and early intervention is part of the systemic solution.”

Report on SEND provision in London 

The London Assembly has published Together: Transforming the lives of children and young people with special education needs and disabilities in London. 

The report warns that SEND funding has not kept up with demand in the capital and that provision in the city could be “a time bomb”. The report recommended that Mayor Sadiq Khan set up a “pan-London SEND network” to support the closer working between health, education and local authority officials.

We were delighted to meet with the report’s lead, Jennette Arnold AM, back in December to discuss the inquiry and were pleased to see that our suggestion for a “SEND Champion” in the City has been adopted as recommendation 11: “The Mayor should appoint a SEND Champion to ensure that the interests of our children and young people with SEND, their parents and carers, play a part in shaping the strategies, policies and services that directly impact on their journey through school and into adulthood.” 

DYT’s CEO, Chris Rossiter, welcomed the report: “London’s commitment to maintaining its lead as an educational powerhouse in England will only improve with a dedicated Champion for the capitals young people with SEND. Bringing together education, health and local agencies is a crucial next step of the 2014 SEND reforms. All too often the coordination of these authorities is being left up to parents and families, which the reforms aimed to change. An independent voice who can feed directly in to the Mayor’s office, is an important development in raising the issues faced by the most disadvantaged young people from across the city.”

Read coverage of the report on Schools Week.

Education Policy Institute – Education in England: Annual Report 2018  

The EPI published its Annual Report for 2018, the report looks at how pupils from different backgrounds perform and the underlying causes of educational disadvantage.

Our Through the Looking Glass report identified the EPI’s (then CentreForum) 2016 Annual report as an example of an influential education body who had not mentioned SEND when looking at outcomes of disadvantaged pupils, therefore we welcome the EPI’s recognition that pupils with SEND are much further behind their peers with regard to attainment and that there is a strong link between poverty and special educational needs or disabilities (over a quarter of pupils eligible for FSM are also identified with SEND).

Furthermore, we welcome recommendation 4  to “Ensure early and sustained additional support for those who need it” with a “well-staffed support workforce in schools to identify and effectively support pupils with additional needs.” This echoes our call to embed SEND in teacher training and CPD to ensure it is “built-in, not bolt on.”

DYT’s Director of Operations, Karen Wespieser commented on the report: “A huge amount of education information is collected each year in this country. It is important that this data is analysed in-depth and shared in an accessible way to present an accurate view of the system for all stakeholders in the sector. This EPI annual report is, therefore, a valuable addition to this picture. The report shows that there is little change in the gap between the progress of children from typically low-income families and their peers; for those pupils that have special educational needs the gap grows across a pupil’s education at a greater rate than any other pupil group. At DYT we are working hard, with schools and policy makers, to ensure this gap begins to narrow.”

Earlier in the year our Joining the Dots report was cited in the House of Commons Library briefing for MPs on support in England for SEND learners.