The impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on children with SEND and their families

Average Read Time: ~ 2 minutes

22 June 2021

Speech and Language Link

A new Ofsted report discusses the impact of the pandemic on the education and support available to children with SEND and their families. The report identifies a widening of the gap between the progress of children with and without SEND.

Detail is provided on difficulties that children faced pre-pandemic ie. late identification of need, (incorrect identification, especially children with speech, language and communication needs  (SLCN) being identified as having moderate learning difficulties), low expectations, lower rates of progress and higher rate of exclusions among children with SEND. It goes on to highlight how the restrictions exacerbated these difficulties.

The report emphasises that the ambitions that education settings have for children and young people with SEND, and the effectiveness with which these ambitions are realised, vary widely. High levels of parental dissatisfaction are described.

It seems that the schools and areas that had previously been most likely to deliver the 2014 Children and Families act reforms and specifically the SEND code of practice and related legislation are faring best in return following lockdowns.

As we move forwards with restrictions eased and systems returning to some normality, Ofsted identifies the need for:

  • Clarity about who should provide what identification and support at a local level,
  • Greater coordination of services and clearer accountability for all partners, all leading to more effective multi-agency working
  • Good universal services
  • Support by stronger cross-departmental working between relevant government departments to enable effective multi-agency working.

The report specifically pulls out the need to ‘strengthen the quality of the curriculum and teaching in all education settings as the first step in meeting children and young people’s needs.’ It goes on to say that, ‘This is particularly important in relation to the teaching of language and early reading.’

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