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Warnock 40 Years On

Policy and Practice Reviews ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Educ. | doi: 10.3389/feduc.2019.00051

Warnock and Statutory Assessments: The first 40 years.

  • 1University of Derby, United Kingdom

The Warnock report ‘Special Educational Needs’ (Warnock 1978) provided the catalyst for an enduring framework of individual statutory assessment in England for children and young people (CYP) with Special Educational Needs (SEN). . Through its implementation in the Education Act 1981, consolidated in the Education Act 1966, the report established the overall SEN framework in England for last 40 years; laying the foundation for statements of SEN and more recently Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). The underlying legal structure created by Warnock has been reinforced rather than changed with the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014. However by establishing rights to specified levels of resources, at the level of individual provision, the Warnock framework has risked undermining adequate provision and parental confidence in Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) provision overall-a central paradox of the SEND framework. This paper considers the consequences of an over reliance on statutory assessment to secure provision, the extent to which it skews resources within the system to one group of children and is therefore in danger of undermining the overall objectives of the current SEND reforms. However it is difficult to reform the statutory system without creating greater parental confidence in the non-statutory offer. While additional legislation to strengthen the SEND framework is desirable the Government could address the overreliance on statutory assessment by a more rigorous implementation of current legislation linked to reforms in funding, accountability and a renewed focus on the Equality Act 2010 provisions on SEND. This would entail the Government being willing to support a more rights based and less market led approach in schools and other settings and introduce strategies to reduce the reliance on statutory assessment in favor of ensuring the education system could routinely meet more CYPs needs. The conclusions are focused on the English system of SEND but the solutions are of relevance for other SEND assessment and funding models which are also considered.

Keywords: Warnock Report, SEND, Statements of special educational need, Equality Act, Education Health and Care Plans, SEN Funding

Received: 14 Feb 2019; Accepted: 17 May 2019.

Edited by:

Geoff A. Lindsay, University of Warwick, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

James E. Hall, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
Brahm Norwich, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
Richard Rose, University of Northampton, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2019 Lamb. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Brian Lamb, University of Derby, Derby, United Kingdom,