The Government has announced a major new review into support for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Five years on from the launch of the Children and Families Act 2014, the review is designed to improve services for disabled children and young people and their families.
The Children and Families Act, also referred to as the SEND reforms, drastically changed provision for disabled children and young people.
The review aims to evaluate the impact of these reforms, and to identify improvements. Too often disabled children and those with SEN face significant local variations in accessing the vital support they rely on. The Government has stated that the review will be followed up by action to improve children’s outcomes and increase capacity in the system.
Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children (part of the National Children’s Bureau), said:
‘It’s five years since the 2014 Children and Families Act introduced major reforms to our SEND system, and now feels like the right time to review how these reforms are working for children and young people with SEND.
‘This review presents an important opportunity to look across health, education and social care to identify how well we are supporting children and young people with SEND, including through the significant changes in the NHS Long Term Plan. A great deal of work has already been done to gather evidence through the NAO, the Education Select Committee and the Timpson Review of Exclusions to name a few, and this review will need to take account of all this work to identify practical changes which will strengthen and improve the system. In particular, I am keen to see the review further understanding on how mainstream schools can better meet the needs of a wider range of children.
‘The Government will need to work closely with young people, parents and carers as they take forward this review, while providing continuity and stability for those using and operating the current system. I look forward to engaging with the review and taking positive steps forward to improve the support for children and young people with SEND.’
The Government also announced that Tony McArdle, Lead Commissioner in Northamptonshire County Council, will be the new Chair of the SEND System Leadership Board. The Board was created following Dame Christine Lenehan’s recommendation in the national review, Good Intentions, Good Enough? It will bring together sector leaders across education, health and social care to drive improvements. The Chair will also act as an independent advisor to the review, alongside Education Endowment Fund Chair Sir Kevan Collins and Anne Heavey, National Director of Whole School SEN.