Public Accounts Committee publishes report on support for children with special educational needs

In a report published today, Wednesday 6 May 2020, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) says children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are seeing their education, well-being and life chances undermined by failings in SEND provision.  

In January 2019, 1.3 million children were recorded as having SEND. The PAC inquiry scrutinised the system for supporting these children and young people, following significant reforms made by the government in September 2014.

The report recognises the vital need for a review of SEND support and calls on the government to complete it urgently.


It concludes that:

  1. Many children with SEND are being failed by the support system.
  2. There are significant unexplained disparities between different groups of children in the support they receive.
  3. Too many pupils with SEND are excluded from school, meaning their education is disrupted.
  4. The Department for Education relies too heavily on periodic inspection for assurance that children, particularly in mainstream schools, are being properly supported.
  5. Mainstream schools have little financial incentive to be inclusive of pupils with SEND.
  6. There are not enough state special school places in some parts of the country, meaning local authorities must cover the high cost of places in independent special schools and spend ever larger amounts on SEND transport.


Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children, said:

“The Council for Disabled Children welcomes the publication of PAC’s report, which highlights persistent challenges in the system for supporting children with SEND. While we have come a long way since the Children and Families Act was made law, there is clearly more work ahead to improve the help provided to children and families.

As a first step, we look forward to the resumption of the SEND review once the pandemic is over, and hope it incorporates the important learning coming from this national crisis. We believe that the challenges posed by Coronavirus have highlighted both the innovative practice taking place around the country but also the fault lines that exist within the current system. When the current crisis is over, the Government must put these lessons into practice swiftly and give children and families a SEND system they can rely on.”

Recommendations from the report can be found here: