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Universal SEND Services

The Universal SEND Services programme is funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and will run from 2022-2025. It aims to bring together support for learners with SEND in schools with support for learners with SEND across further education (FE). 

To deliver our ambition of improving preparation for adulthood from the earliest years all the way through education, in a seamless, joined up way, nasen is working in strategic partnership with the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), whose mission is to improve the quality of teaching and leadership in the FE and training sector, and the Autism Education Trust (AET), who have years of experience in supporting and informing education professionals about autism.

Please make sure that you are signed up to receive communications from the member community through your free Whole School SEND account to get access to all outputs from this programme. Register below, if you haven't already.


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What is the 'Universal SEND Services' Programme?

Too many children and young people with SEND continue not to achieve their ambitions, and not all schools and colleges are yet inclusive and welcoming of learners with SEND.

The aim of the Universal SEND Services programme is for all children and young people with SEND to attend education settings where:

  • Leaders prioritise SEND in their improvement plans by acknowledging that SEND is everybody’s responsibility.  
  • The education and opportunities for children and young people with SEND are built into every policy, not added in afterwards.  
  • School and college leaders consider preparation for adulthood from the earliest stages when designing the curriculum and through other opportunities.
  • They are taught by professionals who are reflective in their approach to meeting the wide range of needs in their class.
  • Teachers are better equipped to identify needs earlier and can adapt their teaching to address and support these needs effectively.
  • The expertise of parents and the voice of the learner is valued to pursue a truly co-produced educational experience.


What support is available through this programme?

A range of support and CPD opportunities is available to schools and further education settings over the course of the programme. As this is a Department for Education (DfE) funded project, participants may be contacted by an external evaluator to measure the impact and success of the project. By participating in any of the webinars, live sessions or other activities you are providing consent by default to have your data shared and be contacted by the DfE and/or the external evaluators to support the evaluation process.

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Online CPD Units

This series of online Continuing Professional Development (CPD) units has been designed to support those who work with children and young people in schools and further education settings. They address the barriers most commonly observed in classrooms and other learning environments, regardless of age, label or area of need.

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Live Online Networking Sessions

To complement each unit you also have the opportunity to join a live online networking session, facilitated by one of our regional SEND leaders.  It’s a chance to contextualise the learning, share experiences and learn from colleagues from across the country. Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment!

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Professional Development Groups

100% of PD Group participants last year reported that SEND is now prioritised within school improvement planning. As a result, we're extending our work across further settings in the next three years, providing opportunities for teachers and school leaders to be part of a professional development group.

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Excellence Gateway - Online CPD

ETF will be delivering a range of CPD sessions and events for managers and practitioners through their excellence gateway - Communities of Practice. These online sessions are open to anyone working in the Education sector with an interest to improving experiences for learners with an inclusion need.

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Responsive Webinars

Our live webinars are delivered four times a year, and take stock of the needs of the workforce and address the priorities of the sector at a given point in time.

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Peer mentoring support for school leaders

We offer peer mentoring support to school leaders, specifically in schools where a judgment of Requires Improvement (where SEND was identified as an area for development) was received at their last Ofsted inspection. We hope that headteachers and others will value the opportunity to engage with our Regional SEND Leaders, and that this will translate over time into improved provision and outcomes for children and young people with SEND.

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Action Research & Lesson Study

Led by the University of Derby Inclusion and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (ISEND) Research Cluster, the Action Research and Lesson Study project aims to support schools, colleges/FE staff to develop their own bespoke small-scale research projects that focus on inclusion and removing barriers to achievement for children and young people with SEND. Divided into two strands, over the next three years, it will support the development of 50 new Lesson Study projects, and 75 new Action Research projects.

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Innovation for SEND

The BIG Idea for SEND project is delivered in partnership with The Sea View Trust. Our remit is to identify, evaluate, document, sustain, validate and scale-up promising school/college initiatives which benefit children and young people with SEND. The ambition is to create an accessible national database to widely share what works for learners with SEND. Project participants will receive high-quality, free CPD to share their ideas and support their engagement in simple, effective, class-based research.

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Preparation for Adulthood from the Earliest Years

Preparing for Adulthood is what all schools do for all young people – but that offer is not always drawn together and recognised. we will be recruiting 80 nursery, primary, secondary and school sixth form settings to carry out a review in the Autumn term of 2023. Settings will receive training and support to carry out the review, and will be encouraged to produce an analysis report and action plan.

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Community Networks

We recognise the importance of context, and our community networks allow us to work together towards co-produced solutions to local issues, linking up existing regional networks alongside a national focus group. 

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Regional networking and support

Suitable for school-based practitioners these networking opportunities will support prioritisation of SEND across the region. 

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Resource update and exemplification

We have developed a wealth of resource materials over years of supporting the schools and further education workforce to develop inclusive practice. We remain committed to updating these existing resources, such as case studies and videos, to extend their relevance.  

Parents and Carers

Whilst the Universal SEND Services (USS) programme is predominantly aimed at supporting the continuing professional development of educational professionals and enabling the cultural / leadership shift towards inclusive practice, we also recognise parents and carers as key stakeholders and a number of our resources - such as our Ask, Listen, Do leaflets - are aimed at helping to develop successful partnerships between families and education settings.

Latest, events news and blogs about the programme

Get regular updates

If you would like to be informed about the latest developments and outputs from the Universal Services Programme please complete this short form. We also recommend that you sign up for the free membership and opt-in to the WSS member community through your communication preferences. 


Programme Partners

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Education and Training Foundation

Our strategic partnership with ETF is enabling our ambition to bring together both school and Further Education and Training professionals to support a joined-up education journey for children, young people and their families, resulting in more of our talented young people achieving their aspirations.

AET Autism Education Trust logo

Autism Education Trust

The Autism Education Trust (AET) has a proven history of very successfully delivering support to schools through their programme, which is created in partnership with autistic people, parents and education professionals. Our combined efforts will upskill more education professionals, and empower them to improve the lives of thousands of autistic children and young people.