What is the SEND and AP Green Paper?

What is it?

In November 2019 the DFE commissioned a Review into the SEND system. The Review wanted to understand why, despite the potential and vision of the Children and Families Act 2014, the system was struggling. It was marked by a programme which was becoming financially unsustainable and a variable set of experiences for children and families, which was not always resulting in positive outcomes

In March 2022 the Review was published as a Green Paper paving the way for legislative change. Green Papers are consultation documents produced by the Government. The aim of the Green Paper is to allow people both inside and outside Parliament to give the department feedback on its policy or legislative proposals.

The Green Paper will look at several key areas in the system that need change and make proposals for that change. These include national standards; role of schools (mainstream and AP) and early years; education, health and care plans; accountability and metrics and delivery support.

What does CDC say?

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, Council for Disabled Children

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. It is also making sure 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.

What next?

A consultation phase will take place where the broadest group of stakeholders have an opportunity to review and reflect on the proposals, giving families frustrated by the existing, complicated and bureaucratic system of support 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.

Detailed proposals in the SEND and alternative provision green paper include:


  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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. 

“Every child has the right to excellent education - particularly those with special educational needs and disabilities, who often need the most support.

“We are launching this consultation because too often this isn’t the case. We want to end the postcode lottery of uncertainty and poor accountability that exists for too many families, boost confidence in the system across the board and increase local mainstream and specialist education to give parents better choice.

“I want to make sure everyone knows what to expect, when to expect it and where the support should come from. I know there are strongly held views and I want to hear from as many parents, teachers and children with experience of the system so they can help shape a future policy that works for them.”

Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi