11 April 2022
We now have the government’s Green Paper consultation on Special Educational Needs and Disability provision, which has reviewed the burning questions and concerns of parents and practitioners about SEND provision, and yet again it boils down to the three Rs, delivering The Right Support, the Right Place, at the Right Time.
The review was first commissioned in 2019, to analyse the effectiveness of the current 2014 system, but due to the intervening pandemic, results have only just appeared. It was becoming clear that current measures were not delivering improved outcomes for young people with SEND. Also, the experiences of young people and families using the system were poor, there were delays and bureaucracy in the process and providers were straining under increased financial pressures. The aim of the review is inform policies which will improve parent/carer confidence in the SEND system and deliver financial sustainability for the whole of a young person’s school career, from early years to further education.
A range of professionals, early years providers, schools, colleges, SEND professionals, Healthcare, local authority and voluntary organisations were consulted, as well, of course, as the young people, children and families at the heart of the process. The paper also acknowledges an increase in alternative provision for young people, who through exclusion, illness or other reasons cannot attend school. It states that although the figure for young people with SEND has increased slightly to 12.6% of the population, 80% of youngsters in state-funded alternative provision have SEND. Another area of discussion is how integrated care systems, healthcare and children’s social care overlap with the SEND system. From a vicious cycle of low confidence, inefficient resource allocation and late intervention for young people’s needs, the authors identify three challenges:
- To improve the outcomes for children with SEND (and those in alternative provision). In 2018/19, 22% of children with SEN reached the expected standard in reading, writing, and maths at the end of KS2, compared to 74% of non-SEN children and similarly reduced figures at the end of KS4. After school, a young person with SEND is less likely to be in sustained employment and is at greater risk of exposure to harm.
- Improving the experience of users of the SEND system. Currently too many families find the system bureaucratic and adversarial, which leads to frustration and lack of confidence. This was apparent in the recent pandemic, during 2021, 96% of parents said their child’s needs according to their EHCP were not met at all, or only ‘somewhat met’. Many parents doubt that their local mainstream school can meet the young person’s needs; they may have to sit through multiple assessments, especial for children with complex needs and find that there is a lack of consistency in the approach across local authorities. There was also an impression that better-off families can afford resources like legal help, to navigate the system for a better outcome. Lack of choice about a child’s alternative provision placement was also a common concern. The cost to local authorities of Tribunals has increased by 8% in the past year, and 96% of tribunal appeals upheld partly or fully in favour of the parents.
- Despite extra funds pumped in by central government, the system fails to deliver value for money. In 2019 only 41% of teachers reported having appropriate training for SEND. Two thirds of local authorities have deficits in their designated schools grant and total spending on SEND is expected to continue to rise, partly due to the increased numbers of EHCPs issued in recent years (a 2.8% increase since 2016, with 30% awarded to children or young people with autism, the other increasing needs include SLC and SEMH). The government has allocated £1 billion in the next year (22/23) but expects the investment to be matched with improved outcomes. Additionally, spending on Alternative Provision is unpredictable and adds greatly to the total high needs expenditure.
What proposals are made in the government's SEND green paper?
The Green Paper invites young people, families, practitioners and providers of SEND to comment on their proposals to address these challenges through an online survey. The DfE proposals include:
- A single national SEND and alternative provision system with national standards
- Review of SEND code of practice 2014
- New SEND partnerships
- A standardised and digitised EHCP process
- Support for parent choice with a tailored list of settings
- Streamlining the redress process, to include mandatory mediation
- Increase investment by £7 billion by 2024/25
- Consulting on a new SENco qualification (NPQ) to increase numbers of trained school staff
- Analysing support needed from Healthcare
- Improve Mainstream SEND provision
- More funding for respite placements
- Invest more in a reformed system of Alternative Provision for SEN population, including investigating unregistered alternative provision
- Set out a ‘family of schools’ model like the Multi-Academy Trusts
- New inclusion ‘Dashboards’ for 0-25 provision, to give a transparent picture of how the system is performing at a local and national level.
- New bandings and tariffs for funding in a national scheme.
- Immediate steps to support local authorities with deficits in funding
- A national SEND standard, which includes a national SEND delivery board, working with CQC and Ofsted, and bringing together partners (parents, carers, local and national government, education and health, voluntary sector).
The scope of the proposals is huge, and with only until 1st July 2022 to comment on the suggestions, we recommend all families and carers of SEND children answer the 22 questions raised by the review. Make your ideas count on these proposals.