The Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education have published a green paper on the future of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) system in England and are undertaking a 13-week public consultation on the paper’s proposals.
The Government’s green paper is the result of the 2019 SEND Review, commissioned to improve an ‘inconsistent, process-heavy and increasingly adversarial system’ that too often leaves parents facing difficulties and delays accessing the right support for their child. There are issues for providers too who have to navigate a complex system where it is not clear what support should be provided or who should pay for it.
The green paper sets out its vision for a single, national SEND and AP system that will introduce new standards in the quality of support given to children across education, health and care. It is central to the Government’s plan to 'level-up' opportunities for children and young people.
In 2014, the SEND system underwent significant reform, with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) being introduced as a replacement for the previous Statement of Special Educational Needs. But the ambitions of these reforms have not been realised fully, with too many children and young people not fulfilling their full potential and parental confidence in decline.
Key proposals for SEND and AP set out in the Government's green paper include:
- A single national SEND and AP system setting nationally consistent standards for how needs are met at every stage of a child’s journey across education, health and care;
- A review and update to the SEND Code of Practice;
- A simplified EHCP through digitising plans to make them more flexible, reducing bureaucracy and supporting parents to make informed choices via a list of appropriate placements tailored to their child’s needs, meaning less time spent researching the right school;
- A streamlined redress process, making it easier to resolve disputes earlier, including through mandatory mediation, whilst retaining the SEND Tribunal for the most challenging cases;
- 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;
- 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;
- Changing the culture and practice in mainstream education to be more inclusive;
- Improving workforce training through the introduction of a new SENCo NPQ for school, SENCos and increasing the number of staff with an accredited level 3 qualification in early years settings; and
- A reformed and integrated role for AP, with a new delivery model in every local area focused on early intervention. AP will form an integral part of local SEND systems with improvements to settings and more funding stability.
Responding to the consultation
The consultation is open until 1 July 2022 and we would encourage anyone who might be affected by the proposed reforms to respond.
You can read the SEND Review: right support, right place, right time here and complete the online survey here.