Equality of funding for SEN

Equality of funding for SEN

I recall that in March, Jo Kent (5 Live Investigates) reported on the ‘postcode lottery’ families face in trying to get Special educational Needs (SEN) support for their children. To those of us who have been working SEN for a number of years, this came as no surprise – there has always been a disparity between Local Authorities (LAs) throughout England. It is quite easy to see how this happens. Even within the relatively wealthier south east of England, some parents find themselves living in a poorer LA relative to their neighbours. Jo’s article refers to the 20% of the schools’ population who are considered to have SEN. The Government say they have no intention to reduce this figure.

One interesting development is the conversion to Education, Care and Health Plans (EHCP) and the extension of the plans throughout school and college, to the age of 25. I wonder whether the EHCPs will lead to greater equality? At the moment our colleagues in LAs are working flat out to achieve the conversion to Statements to EHCPs. The DFE reported (DFE SFR/4/2015) that there were 4205 EHCPs in place compared with 235,980 Statements. The EHCPs were made up as follows:

1360 new EHCPs September-December 2014 – Plus 2765 EHCPs transferred from Statements or LDAs.

While these figures don’t quite add up (probably a typo?), we can see there is a long way to go before all conversions are made. What this doesn’t tell us of course is the detail – Are children with broadly similar needs getting the same provision? I wonder how that will be presented in the future, so that we can get a clear idea of whether the postcode lottery still rules or whether children’s needs are being met. Let’s keep an eye on this!

Helen Jackson

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