Alternative Education: Special Educational Needs

Department for Education written question – answered on 25 September 2023.

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Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department have taken provide children with SEND who are not currently in formal education environments with access to care and adjustments to help them return to education as soon as possible.

Photo of David Johnston David Johnston The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

School attendance is mandatory. Regular attendance at school is vital for children’s education, wellbeing and long-term development. To promote strong attendance, all schools should be calm, safe, and supportive environments where pupils and staff can thrive in safety and respect.

The department understands that barriers to attendance are wide and complex, particularly for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Addressing these requires a support-first approach and strong relationships between families, schools, local authorities, and other relevant local services.

When considering the appropriate action to address absence, schools and local authorities should consider the individual circumstances of each pupil and family and take the best course of action to support the child’s return to school. The department encourages parents to work with their child’s school and the local authority to discuss the reasons behind their child’s absence. They should agree together an action plan, so that the right support can be put in place to help their child to return to regular and consistent education.

The department published the SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan in March 2023. This sets out the department’s longer-term plans to tackle inconsistency in the system and promote attendance through new national standards.

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