MP calls for Ofsted to make SEND education a priority in inspection reports

Tom Hunt

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt wants to see Ofsted inspections prioritise special educational needs - Credit: House of Commons

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt is to meet Ofsted chiefs after calling for teaching of pupils with special educational needs to become a priority in school inspections.

Mr Hunt has also written to Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, and Education Select Committee chair Robert Halfon to raise the issue, and is set to discuss it in the committee.

The letters highlight how he feels the education system is still stacked against children who need more support.

Mr Hunt, who himself has dyslexia and dyspraxia, said: "We need a system which rewards and incentivises good provision of SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) in schools.”

His latest comments come after he called last month for a  'significant' spending rise to support Suffolk's SEND pupils.

As a member of the Education Select Committee, Mr Hunt recently asked Mr Zahawi whether the inspection system is "too focused on outcomes" - and whether this was fair to schools with a high number of pupils with SEN.

The MP said: "“I was pleased that the Secretary of State for Education agreed with me, that all mainstream schools should be SEN schools.”

Mr Hunt welcomed the Budget's announcement of £2.6billion of new funding across the next three years for new school places for children with SEND.

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But he said the government needs to consider a more holistic approach to addressing the needs of these children.

In his letter to Mr Zahawi, he said: "The provision of SEN in schools should be a more fundamental component of Ofsted assessment," and added: "This would advance levelling up in education."  

Education providers have also expressed concern. Dhruv Patel, CEO of Nisai Virtual Academy, which has students based nationwide including in Suffolk, said: “The government needs to gain a real understanding of the journey a child with special educational needs makes through their academic career and what constitutes success for them.

"Only 15% of adults with autism are in full-time employment. This is not because they are incapable of work. This is because schools do not get any credit for developing skills outside a narrow academic criterion by Ofsted, which means many children with SEN remain marginalised. This needs to be corrected.”

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