The Department for Education published the long-awaited special educational needs and disabilities improvement plan last week. Nine regional expert partnerships, made up of three to four local authorities, will take part in a trial phase, reaching around 30 areas at first. The Department for Education will then decide on whether to go ahead with legislating proposed changes.
In brief the plan sets out the following:
- National standards (not until 2025 at earliest)
New national SEND standards are now going to be piloted through the change programme first, before legislation is decided on. By the end of 2025, “a significant proportion” of the standards will be published, “with a focus on those that are most deliverable in the current system.”
- Accountability to ‘ensure expectations met’
Accountability mechanisms will set out how schools must adapt physical and sensory environments to enable pupils with SEND to learn alongside peers and standards for universal and SEN support provision will enable more accountability.
- EHCPs to go digital – after initial trial
DfE is going ahead with plans to create a standardised EHCP template. DfE will work with councils, suppliers and families to test how “digital solutions might best improve their experiences of the EHC process”.
- Local inclusion plans
Government is going ahead with “local inclusion plans” (LIPs), created by local SEND and AP partnerships. Non-statutory guidance will be published this autumn on expectations for the partnerships, alongside a “self-assessment tool.”
- Mandatory mediation to be scoped out first
Ministers had controversially proposed to make mediation between councils and families during the EHCP process mandatory. Currently thousands of appeals go to the first-tier tribunal with some parents waiting up to a year for help, as Schools Week revealed.
- New NPQ for SENCos gets green light
Ministers will go ahead with plans to introduce a new leadership level SENCo National Professional Qualification. Further timings on procuring NPQ providers will be released “in due course”.
Full Document SEND and alternative provision improvement plan – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)