Support for pupils with special educational needs is a 'lottery' in Guernsey and Alderney

Credit: Press Association

Unnecessary barriers are preventing children with special educational needs in Guernsey and Alderney from accessing adequate support.

A review into Special Educational Needs and Disability provision (SEND) found just 44% of families of children with special educational needs were confident that the identification of SEND was accurate.

The report said families believed provision in the islands was excellent once a child’s needs were formally identified but there were ‘unnecessary barriers’ preventing that from happening.

A significant variation in the qualifications and experience of Learning Support Assistants was also found meaning “such support is a lottery for learners”.

Issues arising from age restrictions on access to SEND were also highlighted in the report, with provision ‘falling off a cliff’ for young people.

Currently learners between the age of five and 18 can access SEND.

The report also found ‘significant’ inconsistencies in the level of support being offered to children with similar needs.

The review team heard experiences from families which suggested that inconsistencies had even occurred within the same school, with pupils receiving significantly different levels of support depending on what resources were available at the time decisions were made. 

According to the report, services across education, health and social care were not sufficientlyjoined up meaning families were being left to ‘join the dots’.

It said: “The complexity of the strategic partnerships between the Education Services and other services should be a matter for the services themselves to resolve. It should not be the responsibility of each individual family to navigate the lack of strategic interaction.”

Those working in the sector said accessing funding was a ‘minefield’ and that funds are prioritised for those who ‘shout the loudest’.

The SEND review has put forward 18 recommendations to improve provision in the islands which the Education, Sport and Culture Committee said it was committed to implementing.

The recommendations include every school having a full-time SEND coordinator who does not have specific classroom teaching responsibilities and broadening provision so learners can access SEND from ages zero to 25.

It is clear there is a huge amount of good work already being done in this area, but it is also clear we need to do more. In particular, to make sure that where there is quality provision it is delivered consistently and becomes the norm across all of our settings.

Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, President of Guernsey's Education, Culture and Sport Committee