A cross party group of MPs has expressed concern that too many young people with SEN are falling through the gaps when they leave school. The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee says it is “shocked” that roughly a third of 18-year-olds with SEN are not in education, employment or training (NEET).
The Committee’s report into SEN provision for those aged 16 to 25 criticises the current system for being too complicated, saying that some parents are “driven to despair when searching for appropriate support for their child”.
It also points to massive regional variations between local authorities in terms of the quality and types of care provided. While funding is provided centrally, authorities have a great deal of autonomy over how they allocate funds, and the amounts spent per student with SEN can vary greatly across authorities.
During 2009/10, the Government spent roughly £640 million on special education support for those aged between 16 and 25. However, while the numbers of young people with SEN staying in education are on the increase, the report argues that the help these school-leavers need is not given a high enough priority, leading to a “life-long legacy of lost opportunities” for many with SEN.
Ahead of the Department for Education’s response to its SEN Green Paper consultation, which is expected in the next month, the Committee has challenged the Government to create a simpler system in which parents are kept better informed and the assessments process is made quicker and more uniform across the country.