Views of Young People with Special Educational Needs and Their Parents on Residential Education

Caroline Sharp, Kath Wilkinson, Helen Poet

12 September 2011

Executive Summary

Providing for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) or a disability was the subject of a 2011 DfE Green Paper, Support and Aspiration: A New Approach to Special Educational Needs and Disability - A Consultation. The Green Paper seeks to improve the support provided by the current education, health and social care systems for children and young people with additional needs. Residential education is an important part of this system, particularly for children and young people with complex needs.

This report explores families' experiences of residential education for young people with SEN or a disability, and their views on the placement process. The research was commissioned by the Local Government Group as one of three projects looking at issues relating to young people with SEN or disabilities.

Key Findings

  • Parents and young people valued their residential education placement. Parents felt that residential education offers a wider range of opportunities, skills and support than mainstream or day provision in special schools, citing development of independent living skills outside normal school hours as a particular strength.
  • Factors that influence parents’ decisions about their child’s school include the ability of the school or college to meet their child’s needs, the quality of education, the availability of specialist care, the opportunities for developing independent living skills and their child’s own preference.
  • Many parents said they found the placement process stressful. Most parents said they did not feel well informed about their child’s options and had to search for information themselves. Satisfied parents felt they had been listened to and their preferences taken into account.