SEND Futures

SEND Futures is a new national study of young people with all kinds of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

About the study

SEND Futures is a national study of young people in England with all kinds of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The research has been commissioned by the Department for Education, who want to hear about the experiences of a wide range of young people with SEND. They want to give them and their parents or carers a say in how they can improve the support they get across the education system.

Who is carrying out the research?

The Department for Education has commissioned the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) to carry out the study with the support of the National Children’s Bureau (NCB). NCB is a charity that has worked for the last fifty years to address inequalities which prevent children and young people from achieving their full potential. NatCen is Britain’s largest independent social research agency. All our interviewers carry photo ID cards and have been confirmed by the Disclosure and Barring Service as safe to work with children.

Why take part?

By taking part in this research, you will help the Department for Education to understand the needs and experiences of young people with SEND and their families, and to plan and provide support for young people with SEND. The evidence collected throughout SEND Futures will be crucial in helping the Department for Education listen to children and young people with SEND and their families, and to take an evidence-based approach to fulfilling their priority of supporting those with SEND to live happy and fulfilled lives.

Because your family has taken part before, we can’t replace you with anyone else – you’re unique to the study and we really hope you’ll take part again.

What will taking part involve?

You will be invited to take part in an online survey. We will send you a link to the survey in the post, and via email if we have an email address for you. There is a survey for young people and a survey for their parents or carers. Each survey will take 30 minutes to complete and cover a range of topics, including experience of schooling, happiness and wellbeing, and experiences of accessing and receiving support. And don’t worry – you won’t have to answer any questions you don’t want to, you can just skip on to the next one.

We would like you to complete the survey online. If you are unable to do so, an interviewer will contact you to arrange a telephone interview instead. If an interviewer came to your house for your last SEND Futures interview, we will be able to arrange this again if needed. 

If you decide you don’t want to take part, just let us know by calling 0800 652 4570 or emailing You can also just tell the interviewer when they call.

Why have I been selected to take part?

We want to interview young people with all kinds of special educational needs and disabilities. Last year, we selected 15,000 pupils from the National Pupil Database, which is a register of all pupils in England, held by the Department for Education (DfE). We were given permission by DfE to use the children’s names and addresses to write to you about taking part. This year we are going back to families who took part in the first round of SEND Futures survey interviews to learn how things are for young people and their parents or guardians now, and what might have changed since the last time we heard from you.

What will happen to any information I give?

We will handle your data in accordance with the UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. The study findings are anonymised and nothing we publish will identify you. The results collected will help the government make policies for children with SEND. Charities will also be able to use the findings.

To read more about how we will look after your personal information, please visit:

Contact us

E-mail NatCen at, or call NatCen on Freephone 0800 652 4570

If you would like to contact the DfE directly about this work please e-mail

Further information or help about topics covered in the survey

If you would like further information or guidance about some of the topics covered in the survey, please click here for some helpful support websites and services (pdf). 

Linking data

Click here to find out more about what linking data is and why it is important.


Click here to see some Frequently Asked Questions about the study, for Young People (pdf).

Click here to see some Frequently Asked Questions about the study, for Parents/Guardians (pdf).