This seminar examined the next steps for SEND provision in England and focused on:
It followed the announcement from the Department for Education of a review into support for children with special educational needs, which was ongoing at the time of the seminar looking at how the system has developed since the introduction of SEND reforms and how to ensure that quality provision is offered across the country, putting an end to the ‘postcode lottery’ of support.
The seminar provided an opportunity for delegates to consider the findings of the Education Select Committee’s inquiry looking at the implementation and impact of the Government’s 2014 SEND reforms.
It was an opportunity for discussion on the inquiry’s key findings and recommendations, including issues surrounding the funding and administration of SEND services; a more joined-up approach to SEND across government departments; a more rigorous inspection framework with a greater focus on SEND in Ofsted inspections, and changes so that parents with concerns are able to appeal directly to the DfE when local authorities are not complying with the law.
It also followed the recent publication of the National Audit Office’s report looking at support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, which found that ‘many’ children are not getting the help that they need and that those without a EHC Plan are ‘particularly exposed’. The report also raised concerns about variations in the quality of provision in different parts of England.
Delegates discussed the transition to EHC plans, amidst concerns over delays, application refusals and differences in the quality of the plans across different parts of the country and how best to develop effective multi-agency collaboration between the education, health, and social care sectors.
Sessions also focused on future funding levels for SEND provision following the announcement by the Government of a funding boost of £700m in 2020/21 for pupils with the most complex needs, whilst acknowledging that it was not enough to inject funding without planning and structuring provision alongside investment.
Further sessions offered the opportunity to discuss support for teachers and how technology can be used to improve educational outcomes for pupils with SEND and highlighted the need for improved training for teachers in order to ensure that the use of technology is implemented effectively.
Delegates also looked at the issue of ‘off-rolling’ and how to address exclusions for pupils with SEND in light of the Timpson Review published earlier in 2019.
The seminar also raised the issue of provision for pupils with SEND post-16, with delegates exploring the need for continuation of support to prevent mental health issues and in the form of advice in terms of routes into work and further education options.