Westminster Education Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Next steps for SEND provision in England - support through COVID-19 and beyond, funding, transition to EHC plans, and future options for reform

TO BE PUBLISHED December 2020

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference which focuses on the future of SEND provision and the next steps for reform in England.

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials due to attend from the DfE; Ofsted; HM Treasury; the Government Legal Department; the National Audit Office and the SEND Tribunal.

The discussion and context at a glance:

  • priorities for the DfE review into SEND support
  • the transition to Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans
  • funding arrangements
  • opportunities for improving outcomes

With significant challenges posed to children and students with SEND in the wake of the lockdown - and emergency legislation having relaxed the duties of local authorities towards vulnerable children - delegates will also look at the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic for students with SEND and lessons learned that can be applied moving forward.

It comes as the Department for Education continues its review into support for children with special educational needs, now due for publication early next year. The discussion also follows the publication of the Public Accounts Committee’s inquiry into support for children with SEND.

A scan of relevant developments:

  • £37m to support children with complex needs - amid significant attention being given to improving the current system of support
  • Major review into support for children with special educational needs - the expected publication early next year of the DfE’s review into the SEND system, aiming to:
    • improve available services
    • better equip staff in educational settings to respond to their needs
    • tackle local variation in provision of adequate support
  • Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND): Education Committee publishes Government response to report - focusing on funding, inspection, staffing and governance
  • Permanent and fixed-period exclusions in England - DfE data showing students with SEND but without EHC plans twice as likely to be permanently excluded from school than those with plans, and five times more likely to face permanent exclusion than children without SEND
  • High-tech products to level the playing field for disabled pupils - SENDTech pilots in schools and colleges across England as a part of the broader EdTech Strategy
  • Schools' responses to Covid-19: pupil engagement in remote learning - NFER research finding that pupils with SEND were 58% less engaged in remote learning than their classmates
  • Changes to the law on education, health and care needs assessments and plans due to coronavirus (COVID-19) - emergency legislation relaxing local authority statutory duties towards vulnerable children, impacting the education, health and care (EHC) plans for children with SEND
  • COVID-19 - increased reports of child mental health concerns during the lockdown, as well as related Government announcements and initiatives to support vulnerable children during the pandemic

The discussion in detail:

The current SEND system and looking forward

  • progress and performance - assessing the working of the SEND system as a whole, since the 2014 reforms and in the wake of recent Government announcements and calls for further reform
  • multi-agency collaboration - how best to develop the effectiveness of joint working between the education, health, and social care sectors:
    • following the transition to EHC plans
    • amidst concerns over delays and application refusals and differences in the quality of the plans across different parts of the country
  • the view from Parliament - the Public Accounts Committee report into the state of play for SEND provision:
    • the SEND review - calling for the Department to complete review as a matter of urgency
    • evidence - to understand variations between different groups of children with SEND, such as between genders and ethnicities, and whether needs are consistently identified
    • exclusions - plans to reduce the number of children with SEND who are excluded from school as well as the Department’s response to the recommendations of the Timpson review
    • funding:
      • reconsideration of schools’ current £6,000 threshold for extra support costs for pupils with SEND
      • ensuring that the funding mechanisms incentivise schools to be inclusive of pupils with SEND without encouraging over-identification of SEND
    • the Public Accounts Committee Chair, Meg Hillier MP is a keynote speaker at this conference

Home schooling and the future use of SENDTech

  • COVID-19 - how the experience of the pandemic can inform support available for children and students with SEND going forward:
    • EdTech - its future role in supporting students with SEND, with increased attention being given to education technology during lockdown
    • remote learning - how the experience during lockdown may inform pedagogical approaches for teaching students with SEND going forward
    • tailored approaches - varied experiences of home schooling between children with different needs and lessons for the appropriateness of teaching environments
  • catch-up tutoring - how the DfE plan to bring students up to speed with their studies following the pandemic is working in practice for students with SEND, and how they can be best supported in the return to normal

Post-pandemic support for wellbeing and attainment

  • long-term impact - the pandemic and children’s wellbeing and educational attainment, including the impact of Ofsted’s temporary suspension of all routine inspections
  • child mental health initiatives - assessing the overall provision of support for children with SEND during this time, and how local authorities and service providers can ensure that households and children are adequately supported post-pandemic 
  • funding - how it can best be allocated to support local authorities in coping with the expected rise in demand for services following the pandemic

The agenda:

  • Reform of SEND provision in England - progress, next steps for implementation, and the impact of COVID-19
  • Support for children with SEND during COVID-19 - lessons learned, how services are continuing to adapt, and remote teaching and the role of EdTech
  • Priorities for research, funding and policy - the view from the Public Accounts Committee
  • SEND provision in England - areas for improvement
  • Experience of EHC plans and specialist providers during the pandemic and next steps forward
  • Taking a whole-system approach to SEND - funding, coping with demand, experiences of EHC plans, alternative provision, and support with transitions and post-16 SEND
  • Next steps for reforming SEND provision in England

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons Library, and officials from the Department for Education; Ofsted; HM Treasury; the Government Legal Department; the National Audit Office and the SEND Tribunal.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy from the DfE, the CQC, Ofsted, Ofqual and other departments and agencies, schools and teaching professionals, SENDCOs, representatives of trade unions and local government, the health sector, the edtech sector, groups representing parents, students and the disabled, lawyers specialist academics and charities, together with reporters from the national and trade media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

Shortly after every Westminster Education Forum seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates