Labour has offered little about how it might fix the “fundamentally broken” SEND system, although it did promise not to “rip everything up” if elected.
The party previously pledged to “improve inclusivity and expertise in mainstream schools”, echoing the Tories’ plans, and to “join up services and improve data use” to identify children’s needs earlier.
But it has said little on solving the many challenges in the SEND system, including how it would deal with the estimated £2.4 billion high-needs deficits faced by councils.
When challenged this week, Bridget Phillipson admitted the current system “is fundamentally broken” and “increasingly adversarial”.
The shadow education secretary said she wished the government was “progressing a bit quicker” on its SEND forms
Labour would take some changes forward it it were clear that they were working and were “not about ripping everything up. If something is effective and it’s working, we will be led by the best evidence on it.”
Key policies from the government’s SEND reforms, signed off in March, are being piloted in certain areas, but may not be rolled out until 2026. No new legislation will be enacted in this parliament.
Phillipson told the Labour conference: “It will take a lot to fix but it is my determination that we make sure we have a system that supports all children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities who at the moment frequently don’t have a voice at all.”