Reports of SEND system failures mount as appeals to Ombudsman increase

After our response to September’s reports of a ‘crisis’ in special educational needs services (SEND), a Guardian investigation this week has further highlighted the scale of the problems, claiming that demand for specialist support across England is soaring.

Findings show that appeals being heard by the SEND tribunal have nearly doubled in the last two years, with councils challenged by insufficient funds to meet the demands placed on SEND services.

Commenting on the issues outlined in this latest article, Head of Product & Strategy at Open Objects, Chris Evans said: “From the work we’ve done with local authorities, parent carer forums and children and young people themselves, we’ve found that these cases often reach crisis point unnecessarily due to a lack of communication and transparency throughout process. This is why we developed the EHC Hub – a digital platform that enables local authorities to engage with stakeholders in the most open and transparent way. We have challenged the established notion of a “portal” where a small proportion of information from a local authority’s back office system is made available online. We have simply created a system that is truly transparent, giving everyone the same level of access to information. This is significant in driving cultural change and practice.”

According to the Department for Education, more than 1.2 million school pupils – about 15% of all those in England – have some kind of SEND. Approximately 253,000 (3% of all pupils) have SEND statements or Education, Health and Care plans (EHCP) demonstrating the importance of ensuring the right support and processes are in place.

Chris continues:

“Recently, we’ve continued the work with councils to develop our SEN Support Hub. By applying the principles of our EHC Hub further up the chain and equipping education settings with digital tools, families are engaged in the child or young person’s education outcomes from the outset. This ensures EHC assessment requests are only made on behalf of those who really need them, making the best use of the resources available to settings.”

To read more about Chris’ views on how a digital-first platform can transform the way local authorities work with their partners, read his article ‘Driving a digital approach to aid collaboration and improve outcomes’ or contact us.