The Department for Education’s recently released SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) and AP (Alternative Provision) green paper includes a focus on guaranteeing that the “potential of technology” is fully utilised to best accommodate every child’s unique needs. With the findings of the supporting consultation now being considered, here, Al Kingsley explores the ways schools can best use digital technology to support and innovate education delivery for those with mental health, learning or physical needs.
The Right support, right place, right time review, which aims to break the “vicious cycle of late intervention, low confidence and inefficient resource allocation,” opens by stating its belief that the SEND system reforms introduced in 2014 had the right aspirations by covering the education, health and care sectors. However, the inevitable and historical issue remains: with insufficient government funding and not enough specialist support available locally. Unfortunately, the problem only appears to be increasing, with statistics from 2020/21 showing that 15.8 per cent of all state-funded school pupils were identified as having SEN – an increase from 11.6 per cent in 2016. This is inevitably putting more pressure on the system, as the increase in demand for services is accompanied by significant delays in accessing support.