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DfE review of SEND five years on from the Children and Families Act

Posted in News

The government has announced the launch of a cross-cutting review of SEND Five years on from the Children and Families Act, it is time to review how the reforms it introduced are supporting children and young people with SEND and make sure they are being implemented as well as possible.

The internal review will look across education, health and care to consider:

  • The evidence on how the system can provide the highest quality support that enables children and young people with SEND to thrive and prepare for adulthood, including employment;
  • Better helping parents to make decisions about what kind of support will be best for their child;
  • Making sure support in different local areas is consistent, and that high-quality support is available across the country;
  • How we strike the right balance of state-funded provisions across inclusive mainstream and specialist places;
  • Aligning incentives and accountability for schools, colleges and local authorities to make sure they provide the best possible support for children and young people with SEND;
  • Understanding what is causing the demand for education, health and care plans; and
  • Ensuring that public money is spent in an efficient, effective and sustainable manner, placing a premium on securing high quality outcomes for those children and young people who need additional support.

The government also announced today that Tony McArdle, Lead Commissioner in Northamptonshire County Council, will be the new chair of the SEND System Leadership Board, which brings together sector leaders across Education, Health and Social Care to drive improvements. He will act as an independent advisor to the review, alongside Education Endowment Fund Chair Sir Kevan Collins and Anne Heavey, National Director of Whole School SEN.

Tony McArdle said:

“Delivering better SEND outcomes will require consistent, strong leadership across a range of partners. I look forward to ensuring that this Board equips the sector with what it needs to bring that leadership to bear.”

Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children said:

“This review presents an important opportunity to look across health, education and social care to identify how well we are supporting children and young people with SEND, including through the significant changes in the NHS Long Term Plan. A great deal of work has already been done to gather evidence through the NAO, the Education Select Committee and the Timpson Review of Exclusions to name a few, and this review will need to take account of all this work to identify practical changes which will strengthen and improve the system. In particular I am keen to see the review further understanding on how mainstream schools can better meet the needs of a wider range of children.

The Government will need to work closely with young people, parents and carers as they take forward this review, while providing continuity and stability for those using and operating the current system. I look forward to engaging with the review and taking positive steps forward to improve the support for children and young people with SEND.”

The National Network of Parent Carer Forums said:

“We are delighted that the government has responded to our calls for a review of the SEND system. Five years on from the Children and Families Act, the aspirations of the reforms have not yet been delivered for far too many children with special educational needs. We need a cross governmental plan of action to address the challenges that our members and our partners in the SEND sector have identified. A co-ordinated approach that puts the voice of families and young people at the heart of decision making is key to making sure that the welcome extra funding announced for SEND is spent effectively.

We look forward to working with the Department for Education and sharing the knowledge and experience of our members to making sure this review delivers what the families of children and young people with SEND need.”

The review will inform and support the government’s commitment to revise and update the SEND Code of Practice before the end of 2020.