The SEND review has been criticized by the MP Robert Halford – who was previously the Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee – regarding its direction. In particular, Mr. Halford noted the SEND system’s lack of accountability and the lack of suitable education placements. He also suggested that the attention given to employment outcomes was insufficient.
The MP Kit Malthouse, Education Secretary at the time, responded to this criticism in a reply that was made public in October 2022.
In his letter, Mr. Malthouse emphasized the proposal contained in the green paper to create new statutory national standards and also highlighted the contents of the government’s Schools White Paper, which formed the basis of the Schools Bill. For more information about this bill, take a look at the embedded PDF.
However, education experts – such as Sir Peter Birkitt, founder of Highgate Hill House School – know that introducing new national standards would require new legislation, and it is unlikely that parliamentary time can be found for this in the near future.
The then-Education Secretary, in his response, says that the Department for Education will give more details on funding bands and tariffs when it makes a formal response to the consultation responses received in relation to the green paper.
Mr. Malthouse also stated that schools should foster an ‘inclusive culture’ and that the high needs budget had been increasing steadily.
What About the ‘Tailored List’?
The green paper proposed to restrict parents’ choice of education settings to a ‘tailored list’ decided by the relevant local authority.
In Mr. Malthouse’s response he notes that the government wishes to deliver this change in a way that builds confidence amongst carers and parents. He goes on to say that a sequenced delivery is proposed and that the changes will not be introduced until the provision is in place across the system.
The Role of the Ombudsman
In the letter, Mr. Malthouse also suggests that extending the remit of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman hasn’t been ruled out by the government. This could form an important step in strengthening accountability regarding the provision and support received by young people and children with SEND.
It may also serve to remove the current barriers that make it difficult for the ombudsman to investigate cases in relation to, for example, exclusions or SEN support.