News story

New review into support for children with special educational needs

The Department for Education has today launched a major review into support for children with special educational needs.

Five years on from reforms introduced to better support children and young people with SEND, the review comes just a week after the government announced a major funding boost of £700million in 2020/21 for pupils with the most complex needs, delivering on the Prime Minister’s pledge to ensure every pupil can access the education that is right for them and allows them to thrive.

The review aims to:

• Improve the services available to families who need support.
• Equip staff in schools and colleges to respond effectively to children’s needs.
• End the postcode lottery that families often face.

The review will also look at how the system has evolved since Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) were launched in 2014 and how it can be made to work best for all families and ensure quality of provision is the same across the country.

It will put forward new actions on:

• 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 leading into 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, joined up across health, care and education services and that high-quality health and education support is available across the country.
• The right balance is struck between state-funded provision across inclusive mainstream and specialist places.
• Aligning incentives and accountability for schools, colleges and local authorities to make sure they provide the best support for young people with SEND.
• Understanding what is behind the rise in EHCPs and the role of specific health conditions in driving demand.
• Ensuring that public money is spent in an efficient, effective and sustainable manner, placing a premium on securing high quality outcomes for those who need additional support the most.

Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said about the review:

‘The support and care for people with special educational needs and disabilities is one of my top priorities. The SEND review will be crucial in widening our knowledge of the parts of the system which are working well and the areas which need improvement.
The Department for Health and Social Care will play a key role in the review so we can ensure that high quality healthcare support is available for all throughout the country.’

The Council for Disabled Children’s Director, Dame Christine Lenehan has already responded to today’s news by saying:

‘It’s five years since the 2014 Children and Families Act introduced major reforms to our SEND system, and now feels like the right time to review how these reforms are working for children and young people with SEND.

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.’


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