Following the unveiling of the SEND Review, officials in the Department for Education are currently insisting that there will be a Send Improvement Plan before Christmas 2022, despite the fact that there has been speculation that the Schools Bill could be imminently abandoned. 

Questions Over the Legitimacy of the SEND Review 

The parent-led organisation, Special Needs Jungle, has questioned whether the SEND review retains any legitimacy, given the lack of ministerial input. Special Needs Jungle has called for the Department of Education to publish a clear analysis of responses as quickly as possible, without any further associated policy announcements or plans. 

Of the approximate 7,000 responses, the organisation wants to see what was said and by whom and to know the weighting given to parental views. 

Positive Changes 

For the Special Needs Jungle, there are some positive aspects to the SEND review. For example, the Universal SEND Services contract to improve workforce training is already underway, and investments have been announced into short breaks placements and supported internships funding.  

The government is also funding the RISE partnership and the What Works in SEND program of research being conducted in collaboration with Warwick University that aims to deliver systemic, research-backed improvements.

An Alternative Provision System 

The review, according to the government, concluded that there is a need for greater consistency in the way that needs are identified and supported. To address this, the SEND review proposes to establish a new national SEND and alternative provision system that sets national, consistent standards for the way in which needs are identified and met at every stage of a child’s journey through education, health and care.  

Education experts – such as Sir Peter Birkett, who is member of the Independent Schools Association (ISA) – point out that the review also seeks to support parents and carers in expressing an informed preference for a suitable placement. Furthermore, it aims to streamline the redress process with a view to making it easier to resolve disputes earlier, whilst also retaining the tribunal for the most challenging cases. 

Improving Provision from Early Years to Adulthood 

The SEND review concluded that a more inclusive education system is needed to ensure that children and young people with SEND can thrive. To this end the government has committed to several actions, including increasing the total investment in the schools’ budget, improving mainstream provision and building expertise and leadership. 

For more information about the SEND review, take a look at the embedded PDF.