SEND review – government green paper

Posted on April 7th, 2022

The government green paper SEND review – right support, right place, right time was jointly presented to parliament on 29 March 2022 by the Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi and the Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid. It represents the culmination of a review of SEND provision that began nearly three years ago.

Builds on 2014 reforms

The review builds on the 2014 reforms to the SEND system. These brought about positive changes, not least the expectation of future joint working between education, health and care provision and the introduction of the education, health and care plans (EHCP) that replaced the former ‘statement’ system. But the reforms did not go far enough. As the two Secretaries say in their forward to the green paper, children and young people with SEND still felt unsupported and their families have found themselves navigating an adversarial system to obtain the right support for their children. This has been further exacerbated by the inevitable backlogs resulting from the impact of the pandemic.

Support by need and not by area

The green paper acknowledges that many parts of the SEN system are not working as well as they should. The system, it says, is driven by a vicious circle of late interventions, low confidence and inefficient resource allocation. The review therefore sets out proposals to ensure that every child and young person with SEND has their needs identified quickly and met consistently with support determined by need, not by area.

Main proposals

The proposals in the green paper are intended to:

  • Restore families’ trust in an inclusive education system that puts children and young people first.
  • Create a system that is financially sustainable, provides value for money and builds long term success.
  • Strengthen accountabilities and investment in order to deliver the necessary changes.

Single national system

Essentially the proposal is for a single national system that ‘has high aspirations and ambitions for children and young people with SEND and those in alternative provision, and which is financially sustainable’.

We summarise below the main points of the green paper.

The main document is set out in six chapters, followed by a list of consultation questions, an annex of selected analysis and evidence, a glossary and references.

Key challenges

In its introductory executive summary, the green paper sets out what the authors believe are the three key challenges facing the SEND system. These are:

  • Outcomes for children and young people with SEN or in alternative provision (AP) are poor.
  • Navigating the SEND system and AP is not a positive experience for children, young people and their families.
  • Despite unprecedented investment, the system is not delivering value for money for children, young people and their families.

Chapter 1 – the case for change

This chapter acknowledges that change is needed to ensure that more children and young people are set up to succeed in a sustainable, less bureaucratic system. The chapter repeats the three main challenges included in the executive summary and adds that:

  • Experiences of the SEND system lack a collaborative approach.
  • Local government expenditure on SEND is outstripping funding.
  • There is inconsistency across the SEND system in how and where needs are assessed and met.

Chapter 2 – a single national SEND and AP system

This chapter outlines proposed new national standards and how they would be delivered locally.

The proposals include:

  • A new national SEND and AP system setting consistent national standards for how needs are identified and met at every stage of a child’s journey.
  • Reviewing and updating the SEND code of practice to reflect the new national standards to promote consistency in systems, processes and provision.
  • Establishing new local SEND partnerships, bringing together education, health and care partners with local government and other partners to produce a local inclusion plan.
  • Introducing a standard and digitised EHCP process and template to minimise bureaucracy and deliver consistency.
  • Supporting parents and carers to express an informed preference for a suitable placement by providing a tailored list of settings to meet the child or young person’s needs.
  • Streamlining the redress process, making it easier to resolve disputes earlier, including through mandatory mediation, while retaining the tribunal for the most challenging cases.

Chapter 3 – excellent provision from early years to adulthood

This chapter explains how provision across the system should be improved. The proposals include:

  • Increasing total investment in schools’ budgets by £7 billion by 2024/25 including an additional £1 billion in 2022/23 alone for children and young people with complex needs.
  • Consulting on the introduction of a new SENCo NPQ and increasing the number of staff with an accredited level 3 SENCo qualification in early years settings to improve SEND experience.
  • Identifying need at the earliest opportunity in high quality early years provision.
  • Delivering excellent teaching and high standards of curriculum for SEND pupils in every mainstream school
  • Funding more than 10,000 additional respite placements through an investment of £30 million.
  • Identifying a member of the governing board with specific oversight of the school’s arrangements for SEND, alongside £82 million to create a network of family hubs for accessible wraparound support.
  • Investing £2.6 billion over the next three years to deliver new places and improve existing provision for children and young people with SEND or who require AP.
  • Setting out a timeline where, by 2030, every specialist setting can benefit from being part of a strong trust.
  • Investing £18 million over the next three years to build capacity in the supported internships programme to help ensure that young people with SEND are prepared for HE and employment.
  • Supporting young people in their transition to further education.
  • Preparing young people with SEND for adult life.

Chapter 4 – a reformed and integrated role for AP

This chapter explains how this system will operate specifically for AP settings. The proposal is to create a national vision for AP enabling local areas to ensure that children and young people with challenging behaviour, or with health needs, get targeted support in mainstream settings or access to timetabled or transitional places in AP schools.

The proposals include:

  • Requiring new local SEND partnerships to plan and deliver an AP service focused on early intervention.
  • Giving AP schools the funding stability to deliver a service focused on early intervention.
  • Building system capacity to deliver the vision through plans for all AP schools to be in a strong MAT.
  • Delivering evidence-based services based on best practice and opening new AP free schools where they are most needed.
  • Developing a bespoke performance framework for AP which sets robust standards, with the aim of reintegration into mainstream education or sustainable post-16 destinations.
  • Developing a new performance table for APs.
  • Delivering greater oversight and transparency of pupil movements, including placements in and out of AP.
  • Launching a call for evidence before the summer on the use of unregistered AP provision.
  • Building capacity to create world class support in every area.
  • Ensuring the system is set up for success.

Chapter 5 – system roles, accountabilities and funding reform

This chapter looks at ensuring that there are clear roles and responsibilities, alongside funding reform and robust accountability across processes and procedures in the system. All contributors within the system need to be clear on their responsibilities, have the right incentives and levers to fulfil those responsibilities and be held accountable for their role in delivery.

The proposals include:

  • Delivering clarity in roles and responsibilities.
  • Equipping the DfE’s new Regions Group to hold LAs and MATs to account for delivery for children and young people with SEND locally through new funding agreements.
  • Providing statutory guidance to Integrated Care Boards to set out clearly how statutory responsibilities for SEND should be discharged.
  • Making better use of data in the SEND system.
  • Including new inclusion dashboards for 0–25 provision, offering a timely, transparent picture of how the system is performing at a local and national level across education, health and care.
  • Reforming funding for a strong and sustainable system.
  • Introducing a new national framework of banding and price tariffs for high needs funding.
  • Working with Ofsted and the CQC on their plan to deliver an updated Local Area SEND and AP inspection framework
  • Working with LAs, providers and stakeholders to establish whether changes to the SEND inclusion fund or the current early years funding system are more widely needed.
  • Issuing guidance to LAs on how they should calculate their notional SEN budgets within their funding formula.
  • Updating performance tables to support stakeholders to consider contextual information alongside their results data.

Chapter 6 – delivering change for children and families

This chapter looks at delivering the proposals put forward by the green paper. Plans will be designed recognising the context of the ongoing response to and recovery from the pandemic and that different settings and areas of the country are at different stages of readiness.

The proposals include:

  • Investing an additional £300 million through the Safety Valve Programme and £85 million in the Delivering Better Value Programme over the next three years, to support those LAs with biggest deficits.
  • Tasking the SEND and AP directorate within the DfE to work with systems leaders to develop the national SEND standards.
  • Establishing a £70 million SEND and AP change programme to test and refine key proposals and support local SEND systems to manage local improvement.
  • Publishing a national SEND and AP delivery plan and establish a new National SEND Delivery Board to bring together relevant government departments with national delivery partners.
  • Aligning with wider reforms and changes to the delivery landscape.
  • Delivering change for children and families.

Consultation questions

The green paper lists on pages 80 to 82 a total of 22 consultation questions, all of which arise from the proposals contained in the six chapters of the review.


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