SEND Announcements and Opportunities - 6th November 2017

Written by Department for EducationDate 07 Nov 2017
Publication of Dame Christine Lenehan and Mark Geraghty’s review of residential special schools and colleges

The department has today published “Good intentions, good enough?”, an independent report into the experiences and outcomes of children and young people in residential special schools and colleges.

In December 2016, ministers commissioned Dame Christine Lenehan to lead an independent review into these schools and colleges. Dame Christine, a social worker by background, asked Mark Geraghty, chief executive of the Seashell Trust, which runs an outstanding residential special school and college, to co-chair the review.

The review, informed by a call for evidence and fieldwork visits to schools, colleges, local authorities and other services, found that:

  • Some children and young people in specialist residential placements can have negative experiences earlier in their education prior to seeking residential placements
  • Some LAs are reluctant to use residential provision, even when they lack a viable alternative placement. This is partly because it can be more expensive, but also because some are hostile toward independent/non-maintained providers. As a result, families felt they had to fight to access these placements
  • While experiences in residential placements tend to be good, outcomes are sometimes not as good as they could be, with some providers prioritising wellbeing over educational progress

The report contains a series of recommendations for government and other agencies, focusing on:

  • ensuring children and young people with SEND get the services and support they need in their local community (in mainstream or special provision)
  • ensuring that local areas have planned and commissioned provision strategically, so that it is available when required
  • ensuring the accountability and school improvement systems enable schools and colleges to achieve the best possible outcomes

In her letter of response to the review, the Secretary of State welcomed its findings, and committed to publishing a full response to its recommendations in Spring 2018. In the interim, to demonstrate the department’s commitment to the findings of the review, she announced that:

  • As recommended by the review, the department will establish a national leadership board for children and young people with high needs
  • As recommended by the review, the department is publishing updated visiting guidance for local areas (see below for more information)
  • To help schools and colleges support children and young people with SEND, the department is announcing the publication of a new interactive ‘what works’ resource for those working with these children and young people (see below for more information).
Guidance on statutory visits to children with special educational needs and disabilities or health conditions in long-term residential settings

Today we are also publishing Statutory Guidance on visiting children with special educational needs and disabilities or health conditions in long term residential care. The guidance is aimed primarily at local authorities, health bodies and health or educational establishments.

Based on The Visits to Children in Long-Term Residential Care Regulations 2011, the guidance covers safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people placed in residential schools, hospitals, and other residential establishments for consecutive periods of three months or more.

Publication of a new ‘what works’ resource for those working with pupils and students with SEN

A new interactive ‘what works’ resource for those working with pupils and students with SEN has also been published today.

The resource – ‘SEN support: research evidence on effective approaches and examples of current practice in good and outstanding schools and colleges’ – provides school and college leaders, teachers and practitioners with information and evidence-based practice that can be effective for SEN support.

School and colleges leadership teams, SENCOs and classroom teachers are encouraged to review their provision against the seven key features of effective support.  Practitioners can look at the detail of interventions and approaches and consider what would be most beneficial for meeting the needs of children and young people with special educational needs in their settings. 

Both the development of the resource and the underpinning research were e undertaken by ASK Research and Coventry University.  The resource is hosted on  nasen’s SEND Gateway and the Education & Training Foundation Excellence Gateway

Examples of effective practice include:

  • Reorganising lesson structure, learning environments and curriculum
  • Measures to address attendance issues
  • Effective transition support and preparation for adulthood
  • Effective progress monitoring
Transport Accessibility Action Plan consultation

Separate to today’s review publication, the Department for Transport has recently published the Transport Accessibility Action Plan consultation. The consultation can be accessed through www.gov.uk/government/consultations/draft-transport-accessibility-action-plan.

The consultation seeks to understand what more needs to be done to improve transport accessibility and ensure that people with physical and hidden disabilities (including autism, mental health conditions, dementia) have the same access to transport and opportunities to travel as everyone else.

The consultation will close on Wednesday 15 November and your views would be very welcome.  A final version of the Accessibility Action Plan is expected to be published in 2018, post-consultation.