May 2018 Briefing: Education Select Committee SEN Inquiry

Find out more about the inquiry, what ALLFIE is doing and what you can do to influence it.

Read our submission to the inquiry.

Dear friends

The Education Select Committee, in Parliament, has just launched an inquiry into the impact on Disabled children and young people and their access to education of the SEND legal framework established by the Children and Families Act 2014. The inquiry announcement is a response to growing concern about the social injustices that Disabled pupils are experiencing, including increased exclusions and segregation into Alternative Provision.

The inquiry’s remit only covers the day-to-day operation of the SEND legal framework: ALLFIE thinks such a limited remit is no accident. The 2014 Children and Families Act re-affirmed the ‘presumption of mainstream’ principle in law; leaving this clause out of the SEN inquiry is deliberate as the government continue to systematically attack our UNCRPD rights.

We need to act urgently if we are going to influence the direction of the inquiry so that it focuses on the government’s violation of Disabled children’s human rights to inclusive education as set out in Article 24 of the UNCRPD.

This briefing will provide you with ideas on how you can take action to get our voices heard on the government’s systematic failure to uphold Disabled pupils’ and students’ human rights to mainstream education.

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact me at ALLFIE on 020 7737 6030.

In solidarity,

Simone Aspis

(Policy and Campaigns Coordinator)


The Education Select Committee is a group of MPs, chaired by Robert Halfon MP, which looks at how well the government’s education law and policy is working for all pupils and students.

The Committee are worried about Disabled children and young people being excluded from school or being placed in segregated education.

The Committee wants to know how the Children and Families Act 2014, the law that gives Disabled pupils rights to education-related support and a school or college placement, is working.

The Education Select Committee’s SEN Inquiry was launched on 18th April 2018.

The committee published the following information about the inquiry.

The inquiry

In 2014, the government introduced wide-reaching changes to the SEND system, with the intention of offering simpler, better and consistent help for Disabled children and young people with SEN. The government claimed these changes would give families greater choice in decisions. The new inquiry is intended to review the success of these reforms, how they have been implemented, and their effectiveness in meeting the challenges faced by Disabled children and young people with SEN.

Remit of the inquiry: addressing social injustice in education

Launching the inquiry, Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee, said:

One of the primary objectives of the Education Committee is to address social injustice in education. Understanding and addressing the challenges faced by children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is an important part of this work.

It has been four years since major SEND reforms were introduced and so it is timely that there is now the opportunity to examine whether the government’s stated ambitions for simpler, better and consistent help for Disabled children and young people with SEN have been met. For a while now there have been rising concerns about the quality of and access to SEN provision which the committee will want to explore in this inquiry. The committee’s current inquiry looking at Alternative Provision has heard considerable evidence that Disabled children and young people with SEN are disproportionately excluded from school and over-represented in Alternative Provision. An inquiry into the quality of apprenticeships and skills training is also under way, and during the course of this ALLFIE has heard that Disabled young people with SEN have faced significant barriers in accessing apprenticeships.

ALLFIE believes that all children deserve to access good quality education that meets their needs and supports them to learn, to ensure that they are able to thrive. The Children and Families Act 2014 extended SEN provision to Disabled young people up to the age of 25 and the committee is particularly keen to hear evidence about whether there is the right support available to enable young people to access appropriate post-18 opportunities such as studying at FE colleges and apprenticeships. The Children & Families Act also replaced statements and Learning Disability Assessments with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).

Inquiry terms of reference – call for written evidence

The committee is inviting written evidence by 14 June 2018. Topics include:

  • Assessment of and support for Disabled children and young people with SEN
  • The transition from Statements of SEN and Learning Disability Assessments to Education, Health and Care Plans
  • The level and distribution of funding for SEND provision
  • The roles of and co-operation between education, health and social care sectors
  • Provision for 19-25-year olds including support for independent living, transition to adult services and access to education, apprenticeships and work

Closing date for written submissions: Thursday 14 June 2018.

ALLFIE’s view

We very much welcome the opportunity to submit evidence to this inquiry. It will be an opportunity for families, Disabled people and education professionals to set out their concerns about the implementation of the recent SEND reforms. ALLFIE will be focusing on the barriers that existing law, policy and practice create which lead to many of the injustices Disabled children and young people with SEN experience in education.

ALLFIE believes that the SEN framework and EHCP process cannot be fixed without tackling the weaknesses in the Children and Families Act, in particular, the caveats that weaken the right for Disabled children and young people to be in mainstream education.

We are very concerned that the inquiry’s remit is too narrow to really address the government’s attack on inclusive education. We think the remit should also take into account:

  • The Joint Human Rights Committee’s report highlighting concerns that the Children and Families Act would not be compatible with UNCRPD Article 24 standards.
  • The increasing number of Disabled children and young people with SEN being placed in segregated education as a result of government education and funding policies.
  • The need to strengthen the ‘presumption for mainstream education’ principle which underpins the Children and Families Act
  • The UNCRPD Disability Committee’s Concluding Observations which found that the government is violating Disabled pupils’ human rights to mainstream education.

What ALLFIE is doing to raise our concerns

  • We have written to Robert Halfon, Chair of the Education Select Committee, requesting a meeting
  • We have written to the individual members of the Education Select Committee
  • We are raising the profile of the inquiry by doing media interviews and social media work
  • We have requested that ALLFIE is given the opportunity to give oral evidence to the inquiry

However, we need you to help us, as the more of us that echo similar concerns, the less chance that the Education Select Committee can ignore Disabled people’s human rights to inclusive education.

What can you do?

ACTION NUMBER 1: Contribute to the Call for Evidence

We need to hear from you about your recent experiences (over the past four years) around:

  • Difficulties you have experienced in securing mainstream education, maintaining a mainstream school or college placement and the funding and quality of SEN provision within mainstream school placements.
  • Having to accept a special school placement because the local authority / local mainstream schools were unable to meet the needs of Disabled pupils and students with SEN.
  • Home-schooling Disabled pupils and students with SEN because there is no well-resourced local mainstream provision.
  • Lastly and on a positive note – if there is good practice out there perhaps where local authorities and schools & colleges are making mainstream education work for all Disabled pupils and students we want to hear about that as well.

Please feel free to contact Simone at the ALLFIE office if you need any help in writing up your story (that will be anonymised) on 020 7737 6030. Alternatively you can email your story and please do not forget to include your telephone number. Email

DEADLINE: Sunday 20th May 2018

ACTION NUMBER 2: Contact the Education Select Committee

If you want to contact the committee directly we have set out below some information you might want to include.

The aim of the inquiry is to investigate the social injustices that Disabled pupils experience in the education system.

We think the SEN Inquiry needs to investigate further:

  • Why the government hasn’t responded to the UN Disability Committee’s Concluding Observations document setting out practical recommendations for an inclusive education system.
  • The systemic reasons behind the increasing number of Disabled children being placed in special schools.
  • What the government is doing to actively encourage education, health and care services to work together to facilitate Disabled pupils’ participation in mainstream schools.
  • What the government is doing to facilitate local authorities’ duty to promote the presumption of mainstream education for Disabled pupils and students.
  • Whether the pressure on the local authority education budgets to pay for very expensive out of borough special school placements is affecting their ability to adequately resource local mainstream schools to provide the additional support that Disabled pupils and students with SEN require to facilitate their inclusion in mainstream schools.

Do not forget to send an email copy of your letter to all MPs on the Education Select Committee –

Deadline: As soon as possible

ACTION NUMBER 3: Make a written submission to the inquiry

The Education Select Committee is now accepting written submissions. The deadline is Thursday 14 June 2018.

We have provided you with some suggestions for what you could include in your submission under the previous Action (see above). We suggest you also include:

  • Your details and any official role (follow written guidance)
  • Reference Article 24 of the UNCRPD – the human right for Disabled pupils and students to be included in mainstream education
  • The need to strengthen the ‘presumption of mainstream education’ principle within the Children and Families Act 2014
  • Refer to the recommendations for Article 24 from the UNCRPD Disability Committee’s Concluding Observations –
  • Talk about the negative impact of segregated education from personal and other special school survivors’ experiences (See our How Was School microsite)
  • If you are a parent include your experiences of the EHCP process and whether it is a barrier to or facilitator of inclusive education
  • If you are an education professional include, from your professional perspective, the impact that the SEND reforms and EHCP process have had on the inclusion of Disabled pupils and students with SEN in mainstream education.

If you need any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact Simone Aspis Tel No: 020 7737 6030

DEADLINE: Thursday 14 June 2018.

We look forward to hearing from you and please do let us know any results from the actions you take from this briefing.

See also our press release.