Regulators launch consultation on SEND inspections

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills and the Care Quality Commission have revealed plans for new area SEND inspections to operate from early 2023.

The consultation sets out nine core proposals for the new approach to inspecting area SEND arrangements. A draft area SEND framework and handbook is published alongside the consultation setting out what the inspections under the new framework will look like.

The context

The new framework is being introduced against the backdrop of wider SEND system reform. The regulators have sought to align the framework with the changes proposed in the SEND and alternative provision Green Paper, SEND review: right support, right place, right time.

Proposals for reform are still under consultation and will take time to implement. However the new framework has been designed to promote improvement in the SEND system as it is now.  The new inspections will focus on the impact that local area partnerships have in improving the experiences and outcome of children and young people with SEND.

What’s changing

The new area SEND framework aims to strengthen accountability in five key areas as we outline below.

The regulators propose to do this by:

  • focusing on the impact that local area partnership’s SEND arrangements has on the experiences and outcomes of children and young people – not just whether statutory responsibilities have been met. It will not be “enough” to simply meet statutory responsibilities.
  • strengthening accountability by:
    • an ongoing cycle of inspections, which includes full inspections, monitoring visits and annual engagement meetings.
    • three inspection outcomes, which provide clearer information about how an area is performing, what needs to improve and who is accountable.
    • an expectation that all areas produce and publish a strategic plan for SEND, which is updated following inspection.
  • gathering more evidence directly from children and young people and their families.
  • closer scrutiny of alternative provision.
  • including social care inspectors in inspection teams.

The consultation will proceed on the formulation of nine proposals around these aims.

Have your say  

The regulators are keen to hear from a wide range of stakeholders from those with an interest in, or expertise relating to disability, special educational needs and/or alternative provision to help shape the final versions of the area SEND inspection framework and handbook.  

They particularly want to hear from children and young people who have SEND and their parents and carers. A separate survey consultation exclusively for children and young people has been published so they can share their thoughts.   

The consultation will also be of interest to local authorities, clinical commissioning groups (soon to be Integrated Care Boards on 1 July 2022) and professionals and practitioners involved in the commissioning and delivery of services to children and young people with SEND.

The consultation closes on 11 September 2022. If you’re interested in responding you can do so here.

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