Government review launched to improve outcomes for children with special educational needs

Olivia Rook
Friday, September 6, 2019

More than 350,000 children and young people have received support through Education Health Care plans, which are set to be reviewed.

Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, says he knows there have been difficulties in delivering the 2014 reforms.
Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, says he knows there have been difficulties in delivering the 2014 reforms.

A new Government review has been launched to improve support and services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans were introduced in 2014 to help children and young people with SEND plan for their futures and achieve better outcomes. The plans are drawn up by the local authority after an Education, Health and Care needs assessment has been carried out.

The new review will look at how the system has evolved since 2014 and how consistent quality of provision can be ensured country wide. More than 350,000 children and young people have received support through the EHC plans.

The review will put forward new actions that will better help parents to make decisions about the right kind of support for their child. It will also explore how state-funded provision is balanced between mainstream and specialist settings and seek to ensure that public money is spent in an efficient, effective and sustainable way.

Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary, said: ‘Our reforms in 2014 gave vital support to more children, but we know there have been problems in delivering the changes that we all want to see.

‘It’s the right time to take stock of our system and make sure the excellence we want to see as a result of our changes is the norm for every child and their families.’

Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: ‘Children with special needs and disabilities need to get the right educational support and health care so they can thrive.

‘This review will help make sure all families get the support they need so every child, young person and their parents feel extremely positive about their future.’

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nursery Association (NDNA), said: ‘This review and the planned extra money for supporting children with SEND shows a welcome focus on the issue which is desperately needed.

‘Nurseries across the country tell us that the resources aren’t there to meet all the needs of the children they work with. Since reforms were made to EHC plans we have seen the number of under-fives with a plan or a statement go up by 11.3% and a 54% increase in those children attending private, voluntary and independent (PVI) nurseries.

‘It’s vital that money and resources are invested in early years where they can make a significant difference to a child’s development and lifelong learning potential. This includes training and support across the SEND spectrum for nursery professionals who are the first to identify signs of developmental delay.’

Government spending round
These developments in SEND provision follow the announcement on Wednesday that the Government will be investing £700m in 2020/21 to support children with complex needs.

The Government also announced an extra £66m for the early years sector and plans to invest over £14bn in primary and secondary education between now and 2022/23.

New chair of the SEND System Leadership Board
Tony McArdle, leader commissioner in Northamptonshire County Council, will be new chair of the SEND System Leadership Board, which brings together sector leaders across Education, Health and Social Care to drive improvements. He will also act as an independent advisor to the review.

Mr McArdle said: ‘Delivering better SEND outcomes will require consistent, strong leadership across a range of partners. I look forward to ensuring that this Board equips the sector with what it needs to bring that leadership to bear.’



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