Better support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is at the heart of a new national plan to level up opportunities, with a key focus on ending the postcode lottery that leaves too many with worse outcomes than their peers.

Ministers want to simplify the education, health and care plan (EHCP) process and change “the culture and practice in mainstream education to be more inclusive” as part of plans to improve provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities

The Government’s SEND and alternative provision green paper, published today , sets out its vision for a single, national SEND and alternative provision (AP) system that will introduce new standards in the quality of support given to children across education, health and care.

The ambitious green paper is the result of the SEND Review, commissioned to improve an inconsistent, process-heavy and increasingly adversarial system that too often leaves parents facing difficulties and delays accessing the right support for their child.

The Green Paper identifies three key challenges facing the SEND system. These are: that outcomes for children and young people with SEND or in alternative provision are poor; navigating the SEND system and alternative provision is not a positive experience for children, young people and their families; and that despite “unprecedented investment, the system is not delivering value for money for children, young people and families”.

Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, said:

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.

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, Deputy Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said:

“Councils share the Government’s ambition of making sure every child with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) gets the high-quality support that meets their needs.

“Despite the best of intentions, the current system is not working, and we are pleased government has set out reforms to address this. They will only succeed if parents and carers have confidence in the system.

“It is good to see measures to increase mainstream inclusion and ensure financial sustainability for councils.

“It is also positive that councils, as convenors of local SEND systems, will be able to bring education and health partners to the table where everyone is accountable for SEND provision. Having a collective responsibility will be crucial in delivering a system that works for children and their families.

“We will now be looking to work closely with government, partners as well as parents and carers, to develop these proposals in further detail.

“These reforms will take time to be implemented and in the meantime we would urge government to move quickly and work with councils to eliminate high needs deficits.”


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