Next Steps on the SEND Review: A Blog from CDC

The cross-Government SEND review was launched over two years ago. Since then a huge amount of work has taken place, evidence has been gathered and hundreds of people have contributed to this review of fundamental issues within the SEND system. However, despite the best efforts of the Review team, we do not yet have a formal set of recommendations from this important review.

CDC shares in the frustration that many of you will feel but, we do welcome the opportunity for a continued and focused phase of coproduction and solution building to make sure that the recommendations that emerge are the right ones, that they consider the current and future context as well as the past challenges, and crucially that they are implementable and lead to real, sustainable change for children and families. These changes should be focused on:

  • Needs being identified and met early;
  • High quality universal provision;
  • An integrated approach, delivered locally.

The change needs to be led by those with vision and commitment to a more inclusive future that values the progress and outcomes for all children and young people and recognises their contribution to society.  

Long-term sustainable change is also likely to need stronger cross-government working between relevant departments. Parents cannot be the driving force in ensuring that agencies work together. The new ‘integrated care systems’ are being launched, to improve the integration of health and care in local areas. This creates an opportunity to design better systems in local areas to ensure that children and young people with SEND receive the right health and care services at the right time." 

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted Chief Inspector (HCMI)

 

Evidence tells us that working together to coproduce solutions has a whole range of benefits both direct and indirect. It will be important as we move into the next phase that there is:

  • A transparent process for how different groups of stakeholders will be able to be part of the solution-building process

  • A clear, published stakeholder engagement plan
  • A process to consider and build on existing research and evidence of both challenges in the system and what might work to improve them
  • A ‘test and refine’ consultation phase where the broadest group of stakeholders have an opportunity to review and reflect on the proposals

We look forward to working with you all in the next phase of the Review and will be sharing further updates on how to get involved as they become available.

SEND Review background

What is the SEND Review?
  • The SEND Review is looking at ways to make sure the SEND system is consistent, high quality and integrated across education, health and care.

  • It is also considering measures to make sure that money is being spent fairly, efficiently and effectively, and that the support available to children and young people is sustainable in the future.

  • This cross-government review is being led by the Department for Education, working closely with other government departments and partners in education, health and social care.

Impact of the pandemic

The 16 June Ofsted report: SEND: old issues, new issues, next steps - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) highlighted the impact of the pandemic on the SEND system acknowledging that the pandemic has materially changed the context the SEND system is operating in. In her commentary on the report: HMCI commentary: putting children and young people with SEND at the heart of our recovery plans - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) HMCI said:

“A fragile SEND system before the pandemic

Local area leaders and practitioners working with children and young people with SEND have also had a tough year. Many have gone above and beyond to support children and their families. They have worked under extreme pressures and changing guidance. However, our report shows that local area SEND systems faced challenges before the pandemic, and the disruption in the last year has exacerbated these challenges further.

Our inspection reports, and a range of other sources, showed weaknesses in the SEND system across the country before March 2020. These weaknesses included:

  • not enough focus on providing a high-quality education for all children and young people, which creates a problem of children mistakenly being identified as having SEND. This is because they have not been taught or had enough time to learn the essential knowledge and skills they need
  • significant inconsistencies in how SEND is identified, meaning that the needs of vulnerable children and young people are less likely to be identified in a timely or accurate way
  • weaknesses in joint commissioning and services working together across education, health and care
  • a lack of clarity between organisations about who is responsible and accountable within local area SEND systems…

Given this context, I was pleased to see the government recognise the need to improve the way the SEND system works when it launched its SEND review in 2019. The review has been unavoidably delayed by the pandemic, but it will be no less important when it is published.

I hope the review will recognise that real change for children and young people with SEND will come from high aspirations, strong universal services, effective identification of needs, and high-quality support delivered by a well-trained workforce.

As part of all of this, the review will need to ask what services are deemed essential, to whom and by whom. This is not a new question, but it is one that has been brought into stark focus by the pandemic.”