The government responds to the SEND report of 2019

News - 24 July 2020

In October 2019, the Education Committee published its First Report of Session 2019, ‘Special Educational Needs and Disabilities’; the government has now released its response to this; they also reference the report of the National Audit Office on SEND value for money.

The key points of the government response are:

  • They do not agree with all the points but acknowledge that the SEND system must improve
  • They are ensuring that there is ‘sufficient’ funding through the national funding formula and the high needs block
  • The SEND Review will address many of the issues – the review team is currently considering the analysis and evidence
  • The team of SEND advisers and regional case leads has been expanded to respond more pro-actively where improvement is needed locally
  • Funding was provided (2018-21) to improve IASS (Information, Advice and Support Services) to help families, and for the National Network of Parent Carer Forums
  • Ofsted’s new framework has a greater focus on SEND
  • The national SEND Leadership Board was established in Spring 2019 to provide cross-sector leadership
  • There is reference to the support that has been given to children and young people with SEND during the coronavirus outbreak, and the fact that this has delayed their ability to respond to some recommendations in as much detail as they would like – there will be an update later in the year

More detailed responses to each of the recommendations are also made. These include:

  • They do not accept the finding that local authorities were under-funded for the additional costs of the 2014/15 reforms. They are planning to launch a large-scale value for money study of SEND provision as part of the SEND Futures initiative, to provide information on the outcomes achieved and costs of different types of settings for children and young people with EHCPs
  • A review of children’s social care is to be taken at the ‘earliest opportunity’
  • They recognise that further action is needed to improve collaboration between health, education and care – further detail will be provided through the SEND Review
  • Regarding local area SEND reviews, they argue that the programme of revisits and other related activities is sufficiently robust in holding the system to account; a new inspection framework is currently being designed, which will focus more on ‘those things which matter to children and young people with SEND’
  • They agree that the SEND Review should address the relationship between need and available provision, including for those without EHCPs; the Review will also look into the SEND notional budget and whether this is an effective mechanism for supporting pupils with SEND in mainstream schools
  • They recognise the need to do more to improve support for pupils without EHCPs and are exploring whether to clarify the expectations around SEN Support in the revisions to the Code of Practice
  • nasen and Whole School SEND are referenced as part of the approach to ensuring all teachers are equipped to support pupils with SEND, as is the range of resources available on the SEND Gateway
  • They agree that the EHCP process should be looked at, with a view to simplifying it – this will happen as part of the SEND Review and will inform the review of the SEND Code of Practice
  • They reject the recommendation that all SENCOs should undertake the NASENCO and believe that the guidance should stand as it is. The SENCO Induction Pack and the Effective SENCO Deployment Guide (both WSS) are referenced as tools for schools to use to guide their deployment of SENCOs, including the time they need to undertake their role – they do not intend to specify set time allocations, leaving it to schools to decide this. The SENCO Forum and its advisory group are acknowledged as supporting the Department with intelligence gathering
  • The work of WSS’s regional teams is recognised, with a focus on work with school leaders to prioritise and improve SEND practice
  • They agree that prompt access to therapies is essential, but that this is the responsibility of local authorities and CCGs
  • Responsibility is put on local authorities regarding the ‘bureaucratic nightmare’ referenced in the report, though they do recognise that there are system wide issues, and the SEND Review will look at what improvements could be made
  • They disagree that the Department is not ambitious enough for young people with SEND, but agree that more could be done to support young people into meaningful and sustainable employment and independent living opportunities
  • They do not propose to carry out specific reviews of Local Offers, as these are included in the local area SEND reviews
  • The Department and the Ministry of Justice are in discussion about SEND Tribunal data and what can be done to improve it

In summary, some of the reports’ recommendations are accepted and are being looked at as part of the SEND Review (or other mechanisms); for many other recommendations, the DfE emphasises that responsibility lies with local authorities.

Read the report in full.