1944 Butler Act
  • LEA’s to provide free education to all non-uneducable children up to the age of 15
  • Children categorised in medical terms
  • Uneducable children labelled as ‘maladjusted’ or ‘educational subnormal’ and were taught in separate schools
1972 Children Act
  • All children given the right to education, however severe their disabilities
  • Concept of the uneducable child is abolished
1974 Committee of Inquiry into the Education of Handicapped Children and Young People
  • A committee, including Mary Warnock, to establish the educational principles that would be needed to meet the criteria of the 1972 Education Act
1978 Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Education of Handicapped Children and Young PeopleAKA the Warnock Report
  • Introduction of the term SEN
  • Introduction of SA+ and SA
  • Fostered an ‘integrative’ approach which later became known as ‘inclusion’
  • Based on common educational goals that exist regardless of ability/disability
1981 Education Act
1980’s/1990’s Warnock Framework
  • Remains in place
  • Considerable decline in number of children being educated in special schools
  • Increase in proportion of children being given Statements
1988 Great Educational Reform Act (GERA)
  • National Curriculum
  • League Tables
  • Aiming to create an education befitting a career in industry
  • SEN not a priority/assumption that most SEN would be in mainstream
1993 SEN Code of Practice
  •  Describes how the needs of children on the SEN register (as per the graduated approach – SA/SA+/S) should be met
  • Statutory and non-statutory guidance
1994 UN statement on SEN
  • Governments to adopt the principle of inclusive education
  • Progressive extension of the capacity of mainstream schools to provide for children with a wide range of needs
1995 Disability Discrimination Act
  • Made it unlawful to discriminate against people on grounds of disability
1997 Excellence for All Children: Meeting Special Educational Needs
(Green Paper)
  • The government gives public support to the UN statement on SEN
2001 Special Educational Needs and Disability Act(SENDA)
  • Revised statutory framework for inclusion
  • Strengthens rights of students with SEN to attend mainstream (if parents wish/doesn’t adversely affect learning of others)
2001 Disability Discrimination Act
  • Schools cannot treat children with disabilities less favourable at admissions
  • Reasonable adjustments in order to accommodate students (and visitors and staff) with disabilities
2002 New SEN Code of Practice
  • Takes into account the changes brought about by SENDA and DDA
2002 Statutory Assessment and Statements: In Need of a Review?ANDSpecial Educational Needs: A Mainstream Issue?
  • Audit Commission reports
2004 Removing Barriers to Achievement: The Government’s Strategy for SEN (white paper)
  • The government’s response to the Audit Commission reports
  • Aimed to help all children with SEN reach their potential
  • The government’s short, medium and long term objectives and priorities for action
2004 Special Educational Needs and Disability: Towards Inclusive Schools
(Ofsted publication)
  • Investigation into how well prepared mainstream schools were for children with SEN
  • Also, investigation into why the proportion of children with SEN in mainstream had stopped increasing
2005 Education Act
  • Every Child Matters
  • Some attempts to achieve collaboration between education, health and care
  • Non-statutory requirements so still weak
2005 New Warnock Report
  • Call for the government to set up another commission to review the state of SEN
  • Questioned the concept of inclusion, statementing and links between social disadvantage and SEN
2006 Education Select Committee
  •  Research indicating a need for the review of provision for children with SEN and disabilities


Inclusion Development Programme

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

  • A new National Strategy (Labour)
  • 4 year programme aimed at removing barriers to achievement
  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities comes into force
  • International entitlement to an inclusive education
2009 Lamb Inquiry
  •  Set up in light of the Education Select Committees findings
  • Research into how parental confidence in systems for children with SEN-D could be improved
2010 Equality Act
  • Consolidated a number of previous acts relating to discrimination
  • States that a person should receive different, at times more favourable, treatment to ensure that a person with a disability can have equal access to provision as those without disabilities
2011 Support and Aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability
  • Government response to the Select Committee and Lamb Inquiry reports (Coalition)
  • Ensure better life outcomes for children with SEN
  • Empower them, their families and professionals/local communities
  • Less bureaucratic
2014 Children and Families Act
  • Provision for SEN-D expanded to include 0 to 25 year olds
  • Graduated system replaced with a single category
  • Increased information, support and power for parents
  • Less bureaucratic
2014 New SEN-D Code of Practice 0-25 

SEN-D Regulations


18th April 2018: Education Select Committee SEND Inquiry announcement
(review of 2014 SEND Reforms)

19th July 2019: Education Select Committee School / College Funding Inquiry released
(not intended to be SEND related but SEND forms a significant focus)

6th September 2019: Government SEND Review announcement
(review of 2014 SEND Reforms)

11th September 2019: National Audit Office SEND Inquiry announcement
(financial sustainability of 2014 SEND Reforms)

26th September 2019: Public Account Committee SEND Inquiry launched
(normal process after an NAO Inquiry)


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