The government’s SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) and alternative provision improvement plan was published at the beginning of March, following its review of SEND and alternative provision which started back in 2019.
We know the system is in crisis nationally, and that there needs to be proper funding and accountability for all parts of the system if there’s any hope of transformation. As a forum, we’re still going through the plan in more detail, but so far it unfortunately seems to have missed the mark of being the transformational change that we really need to see.
The proposed changes will take time to happen – much of the plan talks about the end of 2025 before things might be in place. There are plans to trial various proposals in some local areas between then and now, although the detail of what will be trialled and where is not yet clear. And, of course, a general election is due by January 2025, the outcome of which may mean more change.
The most important point at the moment is that the current law has not changed, be that around education, health, and care plans (EHCPs), the duty on schools to use their best endeavours to meet needs, or reasonable adjustment requirements. All of these are still in place. If you are told by schools or services that anything has changed already, please do let us know so we can try and make sure any mis-information is nipped in the bud straight away.
If you are interested in reading more about the improvement plan, the website Special Needs Jungle is a good place to start. It provides parent-centred information, news, special needs resources and informed opinion about special educational needs and disabilities. It also helps to break down and dissect long, often technical policy documents (the improvement plan is 103 pages!), to make them much easier to understand. There is also expert analysis on lots of different issues. The website already has a few articles about the government’s improvement plan which look at various aspects and points of view.
In case you want to know what ESPCF said about some of the specific ideas suggested by the government, you can read our response to the consultation they ran last year. What we said is based on everything we hear from families throughout all the work we do.
You may also be interested in the report the government published alongside the improvement plan, which is an independent analysis of all of the consultation responses.