SEND Review: Right support, right place, right time

SEND Review: Right support, right place, right time

girl with down's syndrome using sign language in classWhat is the SEND review and green paper?

In 2019, the government announced it would carry out a review of the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system in England. This was five years after the introduction of major reforms to the SEND system in 2014.

The aims of the review were to:

  • Find ways of improving services available to families.
  • Help staff in schools and colleges to respond effectively to local needs.
  • End the postcode lottery of services families often face.

The government has now completed the SEND review. On 29 March 2022, it published what it thinks should happen next in the SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) Green Paper, paving the way for legislative change.

What does it mean for me and my family?

A public consultation on the green paper’s proposals runs until 22nd July 2022.  We hope parent carers in B&H and East Sussex will respond to share their experiences and views.  That said, the green paper is 106 pages long and there are 22 questions within the consultation survey, although there are summary and accessible versions of the proposals available.  Amaze, PaCC and ESPCF will each be submitting their own responses, based on what we know matters most to the families and the feedback and issues you’ve shared with us in recent months/years.  Please do get in touch if there are particular areas you would like us to focus on in our response.  We know both local authorities will also be responding to the consultations from their perspectives.

What is the government proposing?

The SEND review Green Paper is split into key areas in the SEND system that need change. Proposals include:

  • Ending the postcode lottery by introducing national SEND standards. There will be legislation to support this as well as a new Code of Practice.
  • New statutory SEND partnerships led by local authorities. These will work with parents and carers to review local need and provision and produce a local inclusion plan.
  • Changes to Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. These include a standard national digital format and a change to the current process for naming a school.
  • Improved provision in early years settings and schools with a focus on inclusion and early intervention.
  • Greater accountability built into the system.
  • Support for implementation. The new SEND system will align with other developments in education, health and social care.

The green paper rightly recognises how navigating the SEND system is not a positive experience for many children, young people and parent carers; that services are not joining up; and that intervention is not happening early enough – creating long-term impacts. Many of the proposals are therefore to be welcomed, such as mainstream schools needing to be more inclusive and greater clarity around responsibilities between different agencies.

Concerns about the green paper proposals

Like 50 other agencies who are members of the Disabled Children’s Partnership we are concerned that some of the proposals in the paper risk restricting families with disabled children from getting services and creating extra barriers in an already burdensome system. In particular, we are concerned by the proposals to:

  • Only let families pick a school from a pre-defined list – this could limit choice and prevent a young person from accessing the school that is best for them. We know many families have had had to fight, sometimes through tribunal, to get a place at a school that their local authority would not accept – such as it being out of borough. The needs and development of young people should be the priority when deciding a school placement.
  • Decide the levels of support disabled children get from a national banding system, possibly restricting access to support – it should be based on individual need, as was laid out in the Children and Families Act 2014. Through a national system like this, we are concerned that young people may be grouped together generically by condition – rather than by being assessed as individuals.
  • Make mediation mandatory before allowing families to go to Tribunal. We recognise the important role mediation can play, but we are concerned that making it mandatory, rather than the current requirement to consider mediation, simply adds an extra step in an already arduous process.

More broadly, the SEND Green Paper does not readily address the biggest issue facing lots of families – how councils, schools, the health service and others will be held to account if they don’t meet their legal duties? In the current system, local authorities and other services providers are often unable to meet their duties, resulting in thousands of families going to tribunal every year.  It isn’t yet clear from the proposals in green paper how this will change.

Find out more

Lots of organisations are currently analysing the detail of what’s in the Green Paper and what the implications are for the existing SEND legal framework and for children and young people with SEND.  Find out more at:

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