Special educational needs and their links to poverty

Document type
Shaw, Bart; Bernardes, Eleanor; Trethewey, Anna
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Date of publication
26 February 2016
Disabled people, Education and Skills
Social welfare
Material type

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‘Special educational needs and disability’ (SEND) is a broad term that encompasses a range of disabilities, disorders and difficulties. Some, such as physical impairments may be relatively straightforward to identify, others are less obvious and in some cases contested. Identification of need is therefore problematic.

This report focuses on ten key areas: identification, navigating the system, funding, early years, access to quality schools, maintaining and increasing the quality of provision for children with SEND in school, parental engagement, ‘pushed-out learners’, special schools, and ethnicity, SEND, and poverty.

Poverty is both a cause and an effect of SEND and the Joseph Roundtree Foundation make the following recommendations:

  • Policy-makers, school and early years leaders should prioritise SEND.
  • Staff in schools and early years settings should be trained to identify needs so that they can be spotted early and over-identification and under-identification are reduced.
  • Targeted funding for pupils with SEND who are at risk of exclusion should be provided so that schools can support them before they are excluded.

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