teacher 2Schools regulator Ofsted has said schools should give more support to pupils with special educational needs (SEN) to help them gain independence and develop personal and social skills.

Ofsted made the call in its 2013/14 Annual Report on Schools. The report noted that while most schools monitor the progress made by disabled pupils and those with SEN in their academic subjects, especially in English and maths, less attention is paid to the progress they make in developing personal and social skills and in becoming more independent. “Parents value these achievements highly and success in them can make a substantial difference to the young person’s future. More attention should be paid to supporting pupils in these important aspects of their personal development,” the report said.

The report also noted that while 18% of pupils have SEN and do best when they are supported by excellent teachers, they are often supported by staff with the least expertise in subject areas and teaching methods.

Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of charity Ambitious about Autism, welcomed Ofsted’s report. “This comes as no surprise to us given recent research which found that 60% of teachers did not feel adequately trained to support children with autism. This huge skills gap and the impact it has on pupils with autism should be clear to all.

“Over 1.4 million pupils in English school have a special educational need and school leaders must ensure that staff are trained to support them. Local authorities also have a role to play in ensuring the all schools have access to an autism specialist teacher. 

“The report states that ‘pupils with special educational needs do best when they are supported by excellent teachers’. We agree and call on all school leaders to ensure that this is the case.”