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Adversarial relationship between councils and residential special schools harming school pupils?

7 November 2017

A report commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) has warned of a striking level of mistrust” between residential special schools and councils, which causes negative outcomes for school pupils with special educational needs (SEND). Financial pressures on town halls and the increasing number of pupils with high needs are said to be contributing issues on both sides, together with schools feeling that pupils are only referred “at crisis point.”

In an attempt to address the issue, the education secretary has acted upon one of the report’s recommendations by agreeing to set up a new “national leadership board for children and young people with high needs.” It is hoped that the new board will promote collaboration between schools, councils and health bodies. Further, the report recommends for staff in mainstream schools to “improve their understanding of the reasons for challenging behaviour” and better meet the needs of children and young people with SEND. A new resource published by the DfE on 'effective approaches' should also help schools with this process. Above all, the priority is to ensure that pupils and young people with SEND are not caught in the middle and that they receive the services and support that they need.

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