John Harris

Journalist & Author

SEN assessment: one of the Cameron era’s most howling disasters | John Harris

Changes to England’s special educational needs system have led to an absurdly complex regime full of trapdoors
• ‘People give up’: the crisis

It was March 2011 when the coalition government announced proposals to reform England’s special educational needs (SEN) system. Some of the initial noise around their plans was grim: government sources said as many as 450,000 children could be taken out of the category of special needs altogether, while the dependably sensitive Mail Online ran such headlines as “Schools on a scam and an excuse for lazy teaching”. At the same time, ministers made contrasting pledges, many of which I heard first-hand – not least the promises to make things “stronger and simpler” for parents and children.

Related: Schools battle to support special needs as teaching assistants lose jobs

Related: Parents pushing for special needs diagnosis for children, survey says

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