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Special Educational Needs — [Geraint Davies in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 20th March 2019.

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Photo of Julian Sturdy Julian Sturdy Conservative, York Outer 9:30 am, 20th March 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered SEN support in schools.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies, I think for the first time. Before discussing the policy that I wish to address, I will take a moment to emphasise why special educational needs support in schools is such an important topic. I secured the debate because of a number of constituency cases that have come through my surgery. Constituents have raised the issue with me and brought me to the point at which I felt the need to discuss it in Westminster Hall. I will not talk specifically about constituency cases, because I want to speak to the wider issue, which affects not just cities such as York but the whole country. That is reflected in the number of Members attending the debate this morning.

I will touch on the importance of SEN and why it is worth taking the time to ensure that the system of support works for all children with SEN. Our starting point should therefore be to see SEN as something that informs mainstream education policy, rather than a specialist area relating to a minority of pupils. More than 1.2 million pupils in England—that is 14.6%—have an identified special educational need, of whom 250,000, or one in five, have either a statement of SEN or an education, health and care plan in place. We should also be conscious of the fact that the SEN of many more students are likely to remain unidentified. For me, that is the wider issue of real concern.

New research by Professor Lucinda Platt at the London School of Economics and Dr Sam Parsons of University College London has helped to inform us about the short, medium and long-term effects on people’s lives of being identified with SEN at school. While the findings are alarming, they serve to underline the obligation on us all to ensure that the next generation of children do not experience their special educational needs as something that impacts negatively on their prospects at school and future life chances.