Pandemic has severely affected pupils in special education

The impact of COVID-19 has left pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) attending special schools and colleges, around four months behind in academic development and five months behind with their wider development. This is according to new findings from ASK Research, supported by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), a report of which Research Partner’s Claire Tyers is a key author.

The policy briefing, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, highlights the results of a survey of 192 headteachers as well as in-depth interviews with 40 specialist headteachers and 40 parents and carers of children and young people who attend specialist settings. The interviews, conducted in April-June 2021, aim to understand the continuing implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on pupils in special schools and colleges in England.

The report makes several key recommendations for government, locally and nationally. An effective recovery for special schools and pupils should:

  • Focus on more than educational attainment.
  • Specifically address emotional wellbeing and mental health – of pupils and staff.
  • Increase health and care input for pupils with EHCPs.
  • Extend support to families – ensuring they also recover and are able to support their children.
  • Be informed by experts – trusting headteachers to decide what their setting needs and how best to allocate funding.
  • Allow sufficient time for real recovery – not just offering a ‘one off’ or short-term solution.
  • Address pre-existing funding shortfalls in SEND, which will have been exacerbated by the changes brought about by the pandemic.

Find out more on Nuffield’s website.