Have your say in resetting the SEND system 

June, 2022 - Shoosmiths LLP

In September 2019 government announced a review of the system for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in England. The current SEND regime introduced in 2014, is considered by many to be unfit for purpose, both in terms of accountability and consistent quality of support and adequate funding to local authorities to make the system work.


Most interested parties agree that making mainstream education more inclusive and better at identifying those children with special education needs requires earlier intervention and improved support, but will also require improved, sustained funding. A separate call for evidence on the operation of the SEND funding system ran between May and July 2019 but the promised review was, like so many other government policy initiatives, delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in some senses this was no bad thing, since the pandemic also exacerbated the existing difficulties in the system, highlighting the urgent need for reform.


Gurvinder Samra, education law specialist solicitor comments:


“The current system is a lottery and long overdue an overhaul. It is administration-heavy and often needlessly adversarial with parents and carers consistently facing difficulties and delays accessing the right support for their child. These reforms will take time to be implemented but it is important that they are also informed by parents’ lived experience of the system. Families frustrated by the existing system of support should take this opportunity to shape how such a new system will work.”


The Green Paper consultation: SEND review: right support, right place, right time, finally published in March 2022, contained proposals such as:


  • a new integrated SEND and alternative provision working to statutory, nationally consistent standards with clarified accountability for responsible bodies, such as schools and local authorities.
  • creation of local SEND partnerships setting out how each local area would meet those national standards, bringing together all the relevant stakeholders.
  • standardised, digital/on-line Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) process and template.
  • mandatory mediation alongside the existing SEND Tribunal to handle appeals against local authority decisions.
  • new Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) National Professional Qualifications (NPQ) for school SENCos.
  • new national framework of banding and price tariffs for high needs funding, including SEND and alternative provision.

Local authority and SEND professionals will have a chance to discuss the reforms further at the National SEND Conference on 15 June 2022 in London.


The public consultation process closes on 22 July 2022 and more information about how parents and carers, children and young people and anyone working in the SEND system can make their voices heard can be found here.


 



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