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Good intentions, good enough?

Transition to the new SEND system ends in March 2018 and the review found excellent examples of service where there has been an increase on focus, support and provision, for children and young people with SEND but that these examples are not yet as widespread as they should be.

They found that too many children and young people are having negative experiences in mainstream schools; too many families have to fight to access the support they feel their child needs; and too many schools and colleges are not ambitious enough about the outcomes their children and young people can achieve. The vision set out in this report, and the recommendations to achieve it, seek to address these problems.

For full report see here.

Recommendations for DfE

  • The DfE should consider how the mainstream school and college workforce can improve their understanding of the reasons for challenging behaviour, and the proactive steps they can take to reduce it for children with autism and SEMH.
  • The DfE should develop a strategy to ensure mainstream schools and colleges can meet the needs of children and young people with SEND. This should include providing greater incentives to schools and colleges to do their best for this cohort, and ensuring that leaders in mainstream have the skills and vision to meet these children and young people’s needs.
  • The DfE should ensure that LAs are offering sufficient short breaks to the families of children and young people with SEND.
  • The DfE should support LAs, working with CCGs as necessary, to make the best use of data and forecast need effectively, and give them an avenue through which to create new provision where a requirement is identified. Providers should also be involved in these discussions.
  • The DfE and should work with LAs to improve understanding of when is and isn’t appropriate to contest a parents’ or young person’s choice of placement, and the SEND Tribunal should produce a regular digest of significant cases to reinforce this learning.
  • The DfE publishes LA visiting guidance, setting out expectations for when LAs should visit children and young people in residential special schools and colleges.
  • The DfE should clarify how the Public Contracts Regulations apply to independent/non-maintained special schools.
  • The DfE should replace the national minimum standards for residential special schools with national quality standards.
  • The DfE should clarify who is responsible for the safeguarding of children placed within area by another LA.
  • The DfE should consider what more can be done to promote and support school improvement in special schools. This should include promoting and facilitating greater links between mainstream and special schools.
  • The DfE should improve the supply of quality school leaders to the special schools and colleges sector.
  • The DfE should require independent schools with state-funded pupils to complete the school census for those pupils.
  • The DfE should publish destinations data for children and young people that have attended residential special schools and colleges, taken from the longitudinal educational outcomes dataset.
  • The quality standards recommended above should require that schools demonstrate how they are achieving ambitious outcomes for children and young people, particularly those set out in EHC plans.
  • The quality standards recommended above should include significant focus on how schools and colleges are ensuring progress against the four PfA domains.
  • The DfE should create a national leadership board for children and young people with high needs, reporting to the Minister for Children and Families, to take forward the recommendations of this review, provide strategic oversight to the services they need, and support collaborative working between LAs, CCGs and providers.

Recommendations for DfE and DH

  • The DfE and DH should, in response to the upcoming green paper on children and young people’s mental health, set out how mental health support will be delivered for children and young people with SEND.
  • The DfE and DH should explore, with a view to piloting, how accountable care systems can lead to more coherence across education, health and care for children and young people with SEND.
  • To provide an evidence base on which discussions about fees can be based, the DfE and DH should, through research, establish the average costs of services provided to children and young people with high needs.

Recommendations for local authorities

  • Local authorities, working regionally with CCGs, parents and young people, should plan and commission provision strategically to meet upcoming patterns of demand, locally where possible. To support this, local authorities should build understanding and data about local and regional trends in SEND needs.

Recommendations for NASS and Natspec

  • NASS and Natspec should encourage their members to be flexible on the fees they charge, and work with them to develop open-book accounting.
  • NASS and Natspec should ensure their members know where to access school improvement expertise.