Three-quarters of special educational needs co-ordinators are being pulled away from supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) by administrative work, a poll suggests.
The findings show how school Sendcos are being prevented from being doing their job effectively by time-consuming education, health and care plan (EHCP) requests or complex paperwork from local councils, according to campaigners.
The survey results, published today, come from the latest National SENCO Workload Survey published by Bath Spa University and the special needs charity Nasen.
An accompanying report calls for a new single template for EHCPs to be created to improve the quality of support for children with SEND and reduce the amount of time spent on administrative work.
EHCPs were introduced to replace statements of special educational needs in government reforms in 2014.
Nasen chief executive Adam Boddison said: “These findings ignite an important discussion around the additional demands on Sendcos, and highlight the need to redefine their role, as well as reduce paperwork and provide greater support with administration.”
James Bowen, director of policy for school leaders' union the NAHT, said: “It is a real concern that Sendcos are finding more and more of their time is being taken up with paperwork and bureaucracy.
"Ultimately this means less support for the children and staff who need it. We urgently need to find ways to reduce this bureaucratic burden on Sendcos; developing a single, national template for EHC plans would seem an obvious and easy first step.”
The report says that 74 per cent of Sendcos are being pulled away from supporting pupils with SEND to fulfil "overcomplicated administrative demands and unrelated duties during their allocated Sendco time".
Half of Sendcos said they had been allocated the same time as in the previous year to facilitate the role, but faced more pressure from senior leaders.
Only 17 per cent of Sendcos stated that they had been allocated more dedicated time to carry out their role compared with the previous academic year.
And more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of those allocated "extra" time were spending it on administration tasks, instead of directly supporting children, families and teachers, the survey shows.
The findings have been published today in The Time is Now: Addressing missed opportunities for Special Education Needs Support and coordination in our schools.
The report's recommendations include:
- Sendcos should have protected time to carry out their role.
- A single national template for EHCPs should be produced, to “develop consistent, effective SEND provision nationally” and to reduce the time spent on administrative work.
- Sendcos should be given additional administration support and be placed on the leadership pay scale.
- Making it a statutory requirement for the school Sendco to be part of their organisation's senior leadership team.
Around 1,800 people contributed to the survey. Nasen said the poll was open for just under four weeks to all those who worked in education.
Participants included Sendcos, teachers, headteachers, local authority staff, consultants and outreach workers. The vast majority of respondents were Sendcos (89 per cent).