Ambitious new plans launched to transform outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs

On Tuesday 29 March, the government published the SEND and alternative provision green paper. The green paper sets out its vision for a single, national SEND and alternative provision (AP) system that will introduce new standards in the quality of support given to children across education, health and care. The green paper is the result of the SEND Review, commissioned to improve a system that too often leaves parents facing difficulties and delays accessing the right support for their child.

The plans to reform the system will be open for a 13-week public consultation, giving families the opportunity to shape how a new system will work in the future - and give them confidence that their local school will meet their children’s needs so they can achieve their full potential.

What do the proposals mean for children and young people and their families?

  • A vision for a stronger national system to support children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families;
  • Setting new national standards across education, health and care to build on the foundations created through the Children and Families Act 2014, for a higher performing SEND system;
  • A simplified Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) through digitising plans to make them more flexible, reducing bureaucracy and supporting parents to make informed choices via a list of appropriate placements tailored to their child’s needs, meaning less time spent researching the right school;
  • A new legal requirement for councils to introduce ‘local inclusion plans’ that bring together early years, schools and post-16 education with health and care services, giving system partners more certainty on who is responsible and when;
  • Improving oversight and transparency through the publication of new ‘local inclusion dashboards’ to make roles and responsibilities of all partners within the system clearer for parents and young people, helping to drive better outcomes;
  • Changing the culture and practice in mainstream education to be more inclusive and better at identifying and supporting needs, including through earlier intervention and improved targeted support.

Other key proposals include

  • Improving workforce training through the introduction of a new SENCo NPQ for school SENCos and increasing the number of staff with an accredited level 3 qualification in early years settings; and
  • A reformed and integrated role for alternative provision (AP), with a new delivery model in every local area focused on early intervention. AP will form an integral part of local SEND systems with improvements to settings and more funding stability. 
  • A new national framework for councils for banding and tariffs of High Needs, to match the national standards and offer clarity on the level of support expected, and put the system on a financially sustainable footing in the future.

Funding announcements

  • The proposals are backed by new funding to implement them, worth £70 million. This will build on the £9 billion government investment in local authority high needs budgets next year and £2.6 billion for new places for children with SEND over the next three years.
  • Capital funding allocations worth £1.4 billion have also been published today for councils to pay for new places and improve existing provision for children and young people with SEND, or those who will benefit from high-quality AP. This funding will help stabilise local systems ahead of any further legislation from the green paper proposals.
  • Low-income families with seriously ill or disabled children will be further supported through investment of £27.3 million next year. This funding will help pay for equipment, goods or services - from washing machines and fridges to sensory and educational equipment that they might not otherwise be able to afford.
  • Over £10 million will also be invested to train over 200 more educational psychologists from September, to give advice and input into EHCP assessments, advise schools on how to support pupils with SEND and offer wider wellbeing support to them, their families and teachers.

“I am very happy to welcome this Green Paper. It shows that Government has listened to the frustration across the sector and the toll that has taken on parents, children and professionals alike. The Green Paper proposes a welcome framework for change which should support children and families getting the services and support they need close to home. However, this is just a framework and so the consultation response to it will be key as it develops into a programme that delivers the change we need to see. We hope that everyone takes the opportunity to respond and support that happening.”

Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children.

Please visit our dedicated web page for more information on the SEND and alternative provision green paper and for information on how to take part in the consultation process: