Government announces new action to improve outcomes for children with additional needs

Written by Department for EducationDate 16 Mar 2018

On Friday 16 March, the Government announced a programme of work to better understand how to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of all children with additional needs and challenges, so they are able to overcome barriers and realise their potential.

These children perform less well at school on average, are at greater risk of being excluded and are overrepresented in Alternative Provision (AP). This is an overlapping cohort whose needs are often complex – many have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, or are children in need of help and protection and so are supported through the social care system. This work is about understanding what works for these children and spreading effective practice to ensure they can fulfil their potential.   

The programme consists of:

  • Carrying out an externally led review of school exclusions
  • Publishing our vision for reforming alternative provision, including the launch of a £4million Innovation Fund
  • Launching a review into the outcomes of and support for Children In Need

The Secretary of State has also reaffirmed his commitment to respond fully to the recommendations of Dame Christine Lenehan’s review of residential special schools, Good Intentions, Good Enough?, later this year. He will also take that opportunity to set out how the Government will continue working to achieve the vision of a reformed Special Educational Needs and Disabilities system, underpinned by the Children and Families Act 2014.

Below we have set out further information on each area of this programme of work, to help you understand how you can engage with us.

Externally led review of school exclusions

We have launched an externally led review of school exclusions, led by Edward Timpson CBE.

The review will help us to understand how and why schools use exclusion, what drives the variation we see in exclusion rates and, in particular, the disproportionate exclusion of some groups  - including black Caribbean boys, Children in Need, Looked After Children, and those with Special Educational Needs. The review will also explore and identify effective practice, which can be shared across the system.

As part of this review, today we have published our call for evidence . We are seeking views from parents, children, schools, local authorities and other organisations, to hear about their experiences, practice and evidence. Please submit your responses by 6 May 2018.

If you have any queries about the review of exclusions and our call for evidence, please contact us at

Creating Opportunity for All: Our Vision for Alternative Provision

Today we have published our Creating Opportunity for All: Our Vision for Alternative Provision, setting out how the Government will reform alternative provision, which is an integral part of the education system entered by children who are unable to attend mainstream or specials due to exclusions, illness or other reasons.

Our vision is to ensure that all AP settings provide high quality education and that the routes into and out of AP settings work in the best interests of children. All children, regardless of their background, needs or where they live, deserves an excellent education and the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

We will do this by raising academic standards in AP and working collaboratively with partners across the education sector, building a strong evidence base and delivering reforms that that enable mainstream and special schools to support children to remain and reintegrate into their settings, promote collective responsibility for delivering a high quality education in AP, and ensure young people leaving AP have choices about what they do next.

£4 million Alternative Provision Innovation Fund

We have also launched the Alternative Provision Innovation Fund: a £4 million grant funding programme launched to support and develop projects that seek to deliver better outcomes for children in alternative provision (AP), and provide an opportunity to share effective practice across the sector. We intend the Innovation Fund to run for two academic years from September 2018 to July 2020.

We are welcoming bids within the following three themes:

  • supporting children to make good academic progress in AP and successful transitions from AP to education, training and employment at age 16 and beyond,
  • supporting children to reintegrate into a suitable mainstream and special school placements, where this is in their best interests and compatible with the interests of other children at that school; and
  • enabling better educational outcomes for children in AP by increasing parental or carer engagement.

To apply for the Fund, please see our guidance and application form. If you have any queries about the Fund, please contact us at

Reviewing the outcomes of and support for Children In Need

We are already driving forward wide-ranging children’s social care reforms to improve children’s safety and stability. Our ambition must also be for Children in Need to achieve their full potential.

The Department has committed to review support for Children in Need to understand why their outcomes are poor and what more support they might require. Led by the Department, the review will develop the evidence to understand what makes a difference to the educational outcomes of Children in Need, and what works in practice to improve those outcomes.

As a first step, we have released new data and analysis on Children in Need, and are launching a call for evidence of effective practice.  This will build the evidence of what support is currently being delivered, both in and out of school, and its influence on educational outcomes for Children in Need. As we launch the review, we want these publications to mark the start of an open, collaborative exercise.

You can find the new data and analysis here, and the call for evidence here. We would be grateful if you could complete the call for evidence and/or consider who else you work with that might be interested in sharing their experiences of practice.

Please feel free to contact us at with any feedback or queries, or if you would like to meet to discuss this work further.