Does SEND get enough coverage in Ofsted teacher training reports?


Pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) were not mentioned in one in seven initial teacher training Ofsted inspection reports from the last decade, research from the Driver Youth Trust charity has found.

This has raised concerns that Ofsted is not doing enough to ensure that teachers are prepared for supporting children with SEND in their classrooms.

Of 354 inspection reports looked at for the research, 50 made no mention of SEND provision, while one-fifth of those schools were still rated as ‘outstanding’ by the inspectorate.

Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman has already said that Ofsted needs to do more to support pupils with SEND, having made a point of emphasising it as part of organisation’s latest annual report.

Despite this, the Driver Youth Trust has warned that “while Ofsted claims it recognises the importance of SEND, it is failing to carry through its commitment during inspections on the ground”.

The charity’s chief executive Chris Rossiter said there is a meet to “match up rhetoric and action” and said that SEND should form “an integral part of teacher training”.

He explained that inspectors should focus on SEND training as it is a vital part of teacher training, in order to ensure that it is adequately covered in inspection reports.

According to the research, the vast majority of reports made just one mention of SEND training, despite close to half of all classes having at least one person with dyslexia.

A further study by the Department for Education in 2018 found that there were two key areas where newly qualified teachers felt least prepared following training: 

  • assessing the progress of pupils with SEND
  • teaching reading and comprehension in secondary schools

The Carter review of initial teacher training back in 2015 also identified SEND as an area where improvement was needed.

Despite the results of the study, an Ofsted spokesperson said that inspectors focus on whether trainees can “recognise signs of SEND” and if “they can plan effectively” for them.

They added: “The fact that not all reports mention SEND is not an indicator of either the evidence gathered at an inspection, nor the importance we place on this vital area of provision.”