Independent Support

In January 2014 the Department for Education (DfE) announced a new £30 million fund to help parents and young people navigate the new Special Educational Needs process. The funding to be used to recruit and train a pool of ‘Independent Supporters’ drawn from independent voluntary, community and private organisations to help the families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) through the new process following comprehensive reforms to support. The announcement also indicated that CDC would be asked to lead on the planning and implementation of the Independent Support (IS) programme.

Evaluation report

Independent evaluation of the IS programme by NTDi published in January 2016 sets out the emerging findings and lessons since the SEND Reforms was introduced in September 2014. For example -

  • the IS role has become the cornerstone of the reforms for many people in many areas, reflecting a focus on personalised and people led support at critical transition points in young people’s lives.  
  • Independent Supporters can be and often are a catalyst for change, helping to embed the culture of the Reforms in organisations and with families so that they have a wider impact on systems as well as with individuals.
  • the added value of Independent Support is most often demonstrated through the experiences of parents who have experienced IS as a distinctly new resource, a focused capacity and access to enhanced support.
  • it is too soon to be thinking about ending the IS Programme (ie in March 2016), as it is only just gathering momentum at a local level and is taking time to take effect both for individual families/young people and those delivering the service.   

Further Government funding

On 29 January 2016 Minister Edward Timpson announces £80 million to extend opportunities to children with special educational needs and disabilities. This includes £15 million to fund the independent support programme over financial year 2016/17.

Procurement 2016/2017

The Department for Education (DfE) has asked the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) to procure services with a number of independent voluntary, community and private organisations with local knowledge, experience and expertise to deliver an independent support service in each local authority area using the funding available. This will be for 9 months  from 1 July 2016 to 31 March 2017.

Interested suppliers should refer to the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire published on 15 February 2016. The closing date for the PQQ is 24th February 2016. 

Click to access "Independent Support 2016/2017"