SEND and Inclusion in Mainstream Schools

There are ‘elephants in the room’ we need to talk about if we’re serious about changing the narrative around SEND.

The SEND Review Green Paper reminds us that 82% of pupils with SEN are educated in state-funded mainstream schools – That’s a lot of children.

Overwhelmingly, colleagues in mainstream settings acknowledge the challenge around SEND and seek to be part of the conversation – They want the best for all of their pupils.

However, teachers in mainstream schools are telling us they feel ill-equipped and under resourced to support in the manner they would like. The green paper suggests only 41% of teachers feel trained to support pupils with SEN.

Discussions around SEND in mainstream are primarily dominated by a handful of case studies. Usually these include pupils with SEMH needs presenting with challenging behaviours and disrupting learning for the majority. The pressure felt by teachers at the coal face quickly trickles up to school leaders who feel obliged to react in a manner which they feel is in the best interest of the majority -This often includes exclusion (in the broadest sense of the word).

It’s important at this stage not to place blame or point the finger. I’ve been there – school leaders do not make these decisions lightly and often feel they are left with no other choice.

Because of the above, SEND in mainstream becomes synonymous with disruptive behaviours, teacher/workload pressure as well as parental complaints.

To really open up the conversation on SEND and Inclusion as outlined in papers such as Ben Newmark and Tom Rees’ ‘A Good Life’, we must be open to pragmatic discussions and solutions… or risk not being heard.

I know here at the Leicestershire and Rutland SEND and Inclusion Hub, we are proactively fostering synergy between mainstream and specialist schools to continue this conversation, provide relevant training and ensure each pupil is enabled to achieve their personal best.

I believe that:

  1. Every child is important and is valuable
  2. Every person, at some time or other, needs the support of others.

It is through this lens we will improve the education system for all pupils, including those with SEND.

To conclude, if we are to have genuine conversations about the SEND system moving forward, we need to be open to pragmatic solutions for the challenges facing mainstream colleagues whilst at the same time recognising all pupils as ‘complete humans’ – they are not broken and they do not need fixing.

Phil Leaney


SEND Review: Right support, right place, right time (Green Paper)  

Children’s Commissioner – Beyond the labels: A SEND system which works for every child, every time  

A good life: towards greater dignity for people with learning disability

One thought on “SEND and Inclusion in Mainstream Schools

Comments are closed.