This week was a big one in the world of SEND – after starting work on it in 2019, the Government has finally published its SEND Review: “Right support, Right place, Right time”. This week’s update is a bit longer than usual, so that we can bring you more detail on this really important development.
The document that was published is a Green Paper – which means that it sets out ideas and proposals for discussion, rather than being finalised policy. There will be lots of opportunities for parents and carers to share their thoughts on the proposals and it is absolutely vital that as many people as possible do this. We will keep HPCI members updated on opportunities to do so (some are listed below).
This update covers:
- The main proposals
- How these have been initially received
- The Schools White Paper which was also published this week
- How parents and carers can have their voices heard.
Below are some of the main proposals that the Green Paper sets out:
- New legislation for a new set of ‘national SEND standards’, which will cover education, health and social care. When Will Quince MP spoke to Parent Carer Forums last week at the NNPCF national conference, he said that he wanted to address inconsistencies in the system that mean children and young people in different areas receive differing levels of support. The paper says that these new standards should cover:
- How needs should be identified and assessed
- The appropriate provision that should be made available for different types of need
- Standardised processes for accessing and reviewing support in mainstream schools
- Standards for co-producing and communicating with children, young people, parents and carers
- Standards for transitions
- New ‘local SEND partnerships’. These will be led by local authorities and will bring together partners from education, health, care, and others (such as youth justice). These partnerships will “be responsible for working with parents and carers to carry out an assessment of need and existing provision across their local area, capturing the prevalence of different types of need locally, and the range of provision that will need to be available locally to effectively meet those needs”. The work will then lead to the development of a local inclusion plan.
- A standardised national template for EHCPs and a standardised Annual Review process.
- New process for naming a school or college place in a child or young person’s EHCP. Local authorities will offer parents a ‘tailored list’ of settings to choose from. This proposal has already caused much debate, as many are concerned that this is a cost-cutting exercise and may mean that children and young people are not able to access the most appropriate setting to meet their needs.
- Plans to ‘streamline’ the redress process, including the introduction of mandatory mediation.
- Emphasis on identifying children’s needs early and putting support in place at an early stage, with the aim of keeping more children in mainstream settings.
- Introduction of a new SENCo National Professional Qualification (NPQ) for school SENCos.
How these proposals have been initially received
There has been lots of conversation in the press and on social media about these proposals – if you want to read further, you could look at the NNPCF response, Special Needs Jungle, and IPSEA.
The NNPCF (the National Network of Parent Carer Forums, of which HPCI is a member) has welcomed the analysis of the problems in the current system and also the proposal about minimum standards and who will be responsible for delivering these.
However, they have raised a number of concerns including:
- The proposed change in process for naming a setting on the EHCP.
- The proposal for a new national framework of banding and price tariffs – does this mean that children with the most complex needs will be priced out of accessing independent settings?
- Whether introducing mandatory mediation will help enforce the new minimum standards or simply be another delay in proceedings.
- Why the paper doesn’t say more on health and social care.
Schools White Paper
The SEND Review also needs to be read in the context of the Schools White Paper which was also published this week. (A White Paper sets out where Government intends to legislate.) Again, there is helpful analysis from the NNPCF about what this might mean for children and young people with SEND, which includes concerns about:
- The target for 90% of children to meet targets for reading, writing and maths may have unintended consequences – a purely academic focus may encourage schools to “off roll” pupil with SEND and could also have a negative impact on pupils’ mental health.
- The emphasis on targeted support is very welcome – however, the focus remains very strongly on tutoring and it is important to consider other non-academic support (e.g. speech and language or occupational therapy) that many children with SEND need.
- There needs to be greater clarity in the accountability of mainstream schools and in particular academies when it comes to SEND
- There remains a strong focus on behaviour and attendance, without the recognition that these may often be the result of unmet SEND needs.
How you can have your voice heard on these proposals
The consultation on the SEND Green Paper is open until 1 July 2022 [9 May edit – this has now been extended until 22 July 2022]. The document itself has a number of consultation questions and you can submit your responses to these online here. If it all seems a bit overwhelming, Special Needs Jungle have put together a document that allows you to make notes about each section and draft your response.
You can also feed in your view via these free events that are being organised by the Council for Disabled Children.
HPCI will be putting in a response as an organisation, so do please share your thoughts with us too (although we would also encourage people to put in individual responses – the more responses from families, the greater voice we have).
We will also keep you updated through our newsletter and on our Facebook page of other opportunities as we hear about them.
Finally… if you did want to share your view in writing, please be aware that we are no longer using our PO Box for correspondence. So should you ever want to send us a letter, please use our new address: Herts PCI CIC, Censeo House, 6 St Peter’s Street, St Albans, AL1 3LF.