SEND and ethnic minority children less likely to progress from nursery to reception in same school

A new report shows that children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and those from ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely than their peers to progress from nursery to reception in the same school

As reported by The Guardian, a new study by the London School of Economics and Political Science shows that SEND children are far less likely to progress from a school’s nursery to its reception than non-SEND classmates.

Over a quarter (26%) of children with SEND statements had to move from the school where they attended nursery to another one for their first school year.

The percentage of children with no recorded SEND doing the same is 18%.

The concern is that these findings will fuel parents’ concerns that some schools are reluctant to allow SEND children to progress, directing them elsewhere instead.

Some ethnic minority groups have been similarly affected, with 25% of black Caribbean children moved for reception.

“There is also evidence that some schools discourage (more or less explicitly) the attendance and admission to reception of children with complex needs, resulting in them moving to alternative institutions,” said the Nuffield Foundation-funded research.

The study’s lead author, Dr Kitty Stewart, an associate professor of social policy and associate director of LSE’s Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, said:

“There are aspects of the way early education policy is currently working that are increasing rather than narrowing inequalities between children.

“Recent policy reforms, such as the 30-hour policy for children of working parents, alongside a squeeze on funding for services like Sure Start, are likely to be making these inequalities worse.

“The government urgently needs to review its provision with a sharper focus on ensuring that all children get the best start in life.”

The report recommends that power be handed to local authority to address these inequalities.

Dr Tammy Campbell, one of the authors of the study, said: “Funding cuts combined with target-based school accountability measures mean that schools are disincentivised from admitting these pupils. We intend to track changes over recent years in upcoming research.”

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