Loughborough University
British Educational Res J - 2023 - Azpitarte - Failing children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in England .pdf (1.04 MB)

Failing children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in England: new evidence of poor outcomes and a postcode lottery at the Local Authority level at Key Stage 1

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-28, 10:14 authored by Fran AzpitarteFran Azpitarte, Louise HoltLouise Holt

This paper sets out original findings from analyses of the English National Pupil Database of Key Stage 1 (KS1) attainment, to examine educational outcomes of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). The schooling of these children has been entirely within the context of the current SEND system, defined by the 2014–2015 policy of the Children and Families Act and Code of Practice. With a strong focus on children's needs and outcomes, the policy intends to achieve high educational outcomes for children with SEND. Our new results show, however, that children with SEND are one of the most disadvantaged groups in education, and they are far less likely to meet expected learning standards than their peers at KS1. For instance, about 44%, 31% and 23% of children with SEND met the standards in phonics, reading and writing, respectively, compared to 88%, 83% and 78% of children with no SEND. Further, our spatial analysis shows for the first time that this disadvantage displays large spatial variability across Local Authorities: there is a postcode lottery in the education of children with SEND. The new findings provide strong evidence that the new SEND policy is failing many children with SEND, and that this performance varies markedly across space. This adds further weight and evidence to a growing recognition, even from government, that the SEND system needs to change, and that the ambitious aims of the transformation of education and care for children with SEND in 2014 and 2015 are not being realised.


A postcode lottery of SEND provision? Analysing and explaining variability in the education of children with SEND since the Children and Families Act

Economic and Social Research Council

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Grant PID2019-104619RB-C41 funded by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033



  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • Geography and Environment
  • Criminology, Sociology and Social Policy

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British Educational Research Journal


John Wiley & Sons Ltd


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© The Authors

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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence (CC BY-NC-ND). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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Dr Fran Azpitarte. Deposit date: 1 November 2023