Earlier this year, the government published a green paper on changes they would like to make to England's special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) system. The green paper was put forward for a 13-week public consultation on the proposed changes. Children & Young People Now, the magazine and website for professionals who work with children, young people and families, have published an article about the consultation and the questions it has raised among professionals. You can read the article here.
Five key issues the sector wants to be resolved
Mainstream inclusion: A key focus of the green paper is greater inclusion of SEND support in mainstream settings and a recommendation for councils to introduce “local inclusion plans” across education provision, from early years to post-16, which would include input from health and care services. While inclusion plans have the potential to improve consistency in expectations of SEND provision in schools, it is not clear how teacher training will relate to the greater focus on SEND in mainstream classrooms.
Funding: The government is proposing to introduce “a new national framework of banding and price tariffs for high needs funding” (gov.uk) which would apply across all educational provisions. This would effectively increase the high-needs budget, however, it has not been acknowledged how this increase would affect spending in other areas of the system.
Education Health and Care Plan changes
The green paper also proposes to move EHCPs online and offer parents “a pre-defined list of appropriate settings” (cypnow.co.uk). This would effectively standardise EHCPs, which may not work for everyone. Planning to offer set options for educational provision has the potential to create limitations for parents and put added pressure on schools.
Early years support
It is acknowledged that greater expertise is needed in the early years sector to maximise early identification of need. To do this, the government plans to introduce a statutory requirement for early years Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCos) to be qualified for Level 3. The current plan is to train up to 5,000 SENCos, the National Education Union (NEU) believes this may not be enough to address the issue of early identification fully. There are also plans to review the current Level 3 early years educator qualification.
There are plans to “streamline” (cypnow.co.uk) and strengthen the redress process for complaints by making mediation mandatory. Currently, families do not have to go through mediation before making an appeal to the tribunal but the government proposes to change this. Applying for and obtaining an EHCP is already challenging for parents, the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) has voiced concerns that this proposal will make the process even harder.
You can read the SEND Review here.
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