Special Report: Special educational needs and disabilities

Fundamental reforms to services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities aim to transform the way support is provided and improve education and care outcomes.

Since 2010, the government has allocated significant policy time and public money to improving services for children and young people with special education needs and disabilities (SEND).

Measures introduced through the Children and Families Act 2014 saw the biggest shake-up in the design and delivery of SEND services for a generation. A key reform was to replace the bureaucratic SEN statements system with what ministers described as a "simpler, more joined-up approach that focuses on children achieving their best".

Although much of the reforms were focused on children with special educational needs, the legislation also introduced duties on local authorities to improve information and support for all disabled children and their families.

Since September 2014, the government has handed local authorities and community advocacy groups more than £200m to implement the measures by April 2018.

But this financial support has coincided with an overhaul of the school funding system and deep cuts to council's education and social care budgets, which critics claim will make it harder to deliver the SEND reforms.

CYP Now's special report on SEND looks in depth at the reforms and their implementation, how they link with other policies on disabled children and young people, what the latest research tells us about the lives of disabled children, and how services are innovating to help SEND children reach their potential.

Special educational needs and disabilities: Policy context

Research evidence:

Permanence for disabled children and young people through foster care and adoption: A selective review of international literature

Peer support for parents of disabled children part 1: perceived outcomes of a one-to-one service, a qualitative study

Enablers of help-seeking for deaf and disabled children following abuse and barriers to protection: a qualitative study

Beyond symptom control for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: what can parents do to improve outcomes?

Practice examples:

Achievement for All - The SEND Bubble

Ladybirds and Brookvale nurseries, Halton

Plymouth City Council

Supported internships, Gloucestershire

CYP Now Digital membership

  • Policy and research analysis
  • Evidence-based case studies
  • Leadership advice
  • Legal updates
  • Local area spotlights

From £170 /year


CYP Now Magazine

  • Policy and research analysis
  • Evidence-based case studies
  • Leadership advice and interviews
  • Legal updates

From £136 /year