House of Commons Briefing on the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Reforms

The House of Commons Library briefing published on 10 November 2016 sets out information on the impact of the changes for children with special educational needs and disabilities brought about by the Children and Families Act 2014.

For those who want to understand the background of the 2014 SEND reforms, the briefing sets out a comprehensive history of the the previous system, the steps leading to the changes and the key reforms brought about by the new system. Looking forward, it also sets out how the new system is being inspected by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Ofsted and Care Quality Commission Inspections

The inspections started in May 2016 and, to date, eight local authorities have been inspected. These include:

  • Bolton – published 14 July 2016
  • Brighton and Hove – published 14 July 2016
  • Enfield – published 24 August 2016
  • Gloucestershire – published 3 August 2016
  • Hertfordshire – published 7 September 2016
  • Nottinghamshire – published 10 August 2016
  • Stoke – published 8 September 2016
  • Rochdale – published 9 November 2016

The inspection reports can be read here.

The inspections assess how local authorities, nurseries, schools, further education establishments, and health services identify children and young people with special educational needs and also evaluate how well they provide services to meet these needs.

The inspection reports highlight particular strengths and good practice in order that this can be shared across other local authorities, but also lists areas that require improvement. Local authorities found to have areas of significant weakness are required to publish a Written Statement of Action to Ofsted that explains how the local authority will tackle the areas of concern. It is almost certain that these local authorities will be subject to a follow-up inspection.

The House of Commons briefing also refers to other initial research on the SEND reforms:

  • Lee Scott report, November 2016, which we wrote about here.
  • The National Autistic Society, ‘The School Report, January 2016, which you read about here.
  • The Driver Youth Trust report, ‘Joining the Dots’, October 2015, which you can read about here.

All reports convey similar findings as follows:

  • Need for greater consistency across all local authorities, schools and colleges
  • Need to improve communication across all agencies
  • More training for all staff working with children and young people to, for example, identify SEND
  • Greater transparency over funding
  • Ensuring application of legislation and the Department of Education to send clear advice to those bodies consistently misinterpreting the law. This includes the timely transition of statements to Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)
  • More strategic planning to ensure young people with SEND have access to training and employment opportunities
  • Improvement on the Local Offer

I am so happy at the outcome, I don't think we would have had such a comprehensive service from any other law firm, and you took the worry away...I do not regret a single second of the whole process, apart from the bit before you got involved. 

James' mother, Boyes Turner client

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