Adoption UK welcomes many of the government proposals, which were announced today, to improve the way children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are supported in schools in England. However the plan lacks urgency and misses opportunities to improve support for some of the most vulnerable pupils.

Adoption UK’s research* shows that 82% of adopted children in England have Special Educational Needs and their academic attainment is poor compared to their peers. Research also shows that the right focus and investment can improve their educational outcomes greatly.

CEO of Adoption UK, Emily Frith said: “We’re not giving vulnerable children an equal chance to learn, and families are shouldering far too much of the burden when it comes to helping their children survive in education – let alone thrive. This plan is underwhelming in its ambition and speed. We can and should do better.”

Adoptive parent Sarah said: “Advocating for my adopted daughter in school has been like having a second job. She has complex social and emotional needs, as well as learning difficulties, and that’s really common amongst adopted children. Her mainstream schools have done their best, but without a big boost in staff, with more time to spend on their relationships with individual students, parents of children with special needs are always going to have a fight on their hands.” 

Proposals to invest in workforce development, introduce national standards and focus on early intervention are positive. However the new standards will not be mandatory, making it very difficult to hold Local Authorities and schools to account for improvements.

* Adoption UK’s annual Adoption Barometer reveals:

  • 82% of adopted children in England have recognised special educational needs and disabilities;
  • Half of their parents do not feel the provision outlined in their child’s SEN support plan can meet their needs;
  • 68% of adoptive parents in the UK said it feels like a battle to get the support their child needs in school;
  • 71% of adoptive parents home educating in the UK said they would prefer their child to be in school if they could find a school to meet their child’s needs.


Read our Adoption Barometer report here

Read the SEND plan here