Ofsted inspection: Lamb enquiry to include SEN provision
Call for Ofsted to turn its eye on SEN
Lamb inquiry says inadequate special needs provision should result in a poor rating from inspectorate
Schools that don’t offer good enough support for children with special needs should expect to get a poor Ofsted rating as part of plans to make special educational needs provision more accountable.
The government-commissioned Lamb inquiry has ordered greater “quality assurance” and promised that schools’ SEN provision will come under the scrutiny of inspectors.
But the review also calls for a reduction in the bureaucracy associated with SEN, including scrapping the obligation on schools to produce so many policies relating to SEN provision.
Brian Lamb’s inquiry was set up to find out how to improve parental confidence in the SEN assessment process; the final report is due for publication this summer.
Mr Lamb, who is chair of the Special Educational Consortium, said good communication was key to SEN provision and that the worst examples he and his team had seen “generated significant levels of hostility” (to child and parents).
One parent told him: “Both our daughter and us were treated as a nuisance and dislike was obvious.”
Mr Lamb has also called for local authorities to produce better disability equality schemes and SEN training for parents.
“Ofsted focuses on outcomes achieved by pupils. Where outcomes are not good enough for disabled pupils and pupils with SEN, schools should not be able to get a good or outstanding judgment overall,” Mr Lamb said.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said she hoped the proposals would reduce bureaucratic and workload burdens on teachers. “Schools will welcome the emphasis in the recommendations on streamlining the SEN and disability-reporting requirements,” she said.
“If such changes result in parents receiving clear and straightforward reports on their child’s progress, then parental confidence in how well schools manage SEN and disability matters is likely to be enhanced.”
Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, welcomed the move to make schools more accountable in fulfilling their responsibilities towards vulnerable children.
The society has drafted a Private Member’s Bill for MP John Bercow, due to be debated later this month, which aims to make it a legal requirement for Ofsted inspections to include SEN provision.
“Too many children with special educational needs, such as autism, are currently failed by education authorities and schools who are not held accountable for the support they provide,” Mr Lever said.
“Inspections frequently ignore the experiences of children with SEN, so any problems remain unheard and unrecognised. As a result, children with autism often struggle to reach their potential.”
But Sarah Sherwood, headteacher of LVS Hassocks, a new independent special school in Sussex, warned that rigid Ofsted inspections would stop special schools trying unusual lessons.
“The DCSF (Department for Children, Schools and Families) has told schools to be innovative, but it’s clear that Ofsted inspectors do not take that view,” she said.
“I would welcome a different type of inspection for special schools, and for the no-notice scheme not to be extended to us. It’s not fair:, we rely so much on support staff that if inspectors turned up during a period of illness they would not see lessons run as normal.”
Recommendations from the report:
- SEN and disability training for all school improvement partners working with mainstream schools
- Improvement partners should report the extent to which the school has promoted good outcomes and good progress
- Ofsted’s parent questionnaire should include questions for parents of SEN and disabled pupils
- Schools with poor outcomes for disabled and SEN pupils should not be considered for a top Ofsted rating in overall school effectiveness
- School self-evaluation should be explicit about compliance with statutory requirements on SEN and disability
- Training should be developed for those working with parents of disabled and SEN children across the school workforce
- Local authority websites should include SEN policies and disability equality schemes for all schools in their area
- The National Strategies should report to the DCSF which local authorities have complied with the publication of the required disability equality scheme and SEN information and on the extent of compliance among schools
- Annual review meetings should be held for children with a statement
- Requirements on SEN policies should be extended to pupil referral units
- There should be a reduction in the required content of school SEN policies.