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Conditions such as dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism can be referred to as neurodiverse conditions. Some children who are affected by these conditions are entitled to extra support in schools. This can take the form of a special learning programme, help communicating with other children, or extra encouragement in their learning. The Government refers to this support as special educational needs (SEN) support.

Statistics from the Department of Education found that 14.9% of pupils in England in January 2019 had a special educational need (SEN). If a child needs further support, they may receive an education, health and care (EHC) plan. In January 2019, 3.1% of pupils had an EHC plan. Both SEN support and EHC plans are overseen by the local authority.

In September 2019, the Government announced a review into support for children with special educational needs and disabilities. The review will consider the impact of reforms that were introduced in 2014. In response to a written question on 4 February 2020, the Government stated that further information about the review will be published shortly.

In addition to the review, the Government also announced £700m of funding to help pupils with the most complex needs for school year 2020 to 2021, and a pilot scheme of new assistive technology to be used in up to 100 schools and colleges.

In October 2019, the House of Commons Education Committee published a report on special educational needs and disabilities which evaluated the reforms that were put in place in 2014. The committee acknowledged that the reforms were needed but said that their implementation was “badly hampered by poor administration” and a “challenging funding environment”.

The National Audit Office (NAO), in their report from September 2019, has said that the current system of SEN support is not financially sustainable. Similarly, the Local Government Association has stated that the current system is at a “tipping point”, as demand for SEN services has risen much faster than funding has been made available.


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