Reforms for children and young people with SEND

Better support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is at the heart of a new national plan.

With a key focus on ending the postcode lottery that leaves too many with worse outcomes than their peers, the government’s new SEND and alternative provision green paper sets out its vision for a single, national SEND and alternative provision (AP) system that will introduce new standards in the quality of support given to children across education, health and care.

The result of the SEND Review, commissioned to improve an inconsistent, process-heavy and increasingly adversarial system, the plans to reform the system will be open for a 13-week public consultation, giving families frustrated by the existing, complicated and bureaucratic system of support the opportunity to shape how a new system will work in the future - and give them confidence that their local school will meet their children’s needs so they can achieve their full potential.

Proposals within the paper include a new legal requirement for councils to introduce ‘local inclusion plans’ that bring together early years, schools and post-16 education with health and care services, giving system partners more certainty on who is responsible and when.

There will also be a new national framework for councils for banding and tariffs of High Needs, to match the national standards and offer clarity on the level of support expected, and put the system on a financially sustainable footing in the future, as well as improved oversight and transparency through the publication of new ‘local inclusion dashboards’ to make roles and responsibilities of all partners within the system clearer for parents and young people.

The proposals are backed by new funding to implement them, worth £70 million. This will build on the £9 billion government investment in local authority high needs budgets next year and £2.6 billion for new places for children with SEND over the next three years.

Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “Every child has the right to excellent education - particularly those with special educational needs and disabilities, who often need the most support. We are launching this consultation because too often this isn’t the case. We want to end the postcode lottery of uncertainty and poor accountability that exists for too many families, boost confidence in the system across the board and increase local mainstream and specialist education to give parents better choice. I want to make sure everyone knows what to expect, when to expect it and where the support should come from. I know there are strongly held views and I want to hear from as many parents, teachers and children with experience of the system so they can help shape a future policy that works for them.”

Lucy Nethsingha, deputy chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Councils share the government’s ambition of making sure every child with SEND gets the high-quality support that meets their needs. Despite the best of intentions, the current system is not working, and we are pleased government has set out reforms to address this. They will only succeed if parents and carers have confidence in the system.

“It is good to see measures to increase mainstream inclusion and ensure financial sustainability for councils.
It is also positive that councils, as convenors of local SEND systems, will be able to bring education and health partners to the table where everyone is accountable for SEND provision. Having a collective responsibility will be crucial in delivering a system that works for children and their families.

“We will now be looking to work closely with government, partners as well as parents and carers, to develop these proposals in further detail. These reforms will take time to be implemented and in the meantime we would urge government to move quickly and work with councils to eliminate high needs deficits.”

Event Diary

Solutions for Councils and Landlords