The Government has announced a major review into the support offered to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
It said the review, which follows a £700m funding boost in last week’s Spending Round, aimed to end the ‘postcode lottery’ of provision and improve the way families were supported.
The Department for Education (DfE) will examine how the system has evolved since the launch of Education Health and Care plans in 2014 and explore the role of health care in SEND.
Since 2014 the number of children with Education, Health and Care plans has increased by nearly 50%.
A National Audit Office (NAO) report yesterday said the department ‘did not fully assess the likely financial consequences of the 2014 reforms’ and had assumed that they would lead to cost savings. However, the NAO found that parents’ and carers’ satisfaction with the system had ‘not improved as the department intended’.
Education secretary, Gavin Williamson, 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 so 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.’
Lead commissioner at Northamptonshire CC, Tony McArdle, will act as an independent adviser to the review.
Head of the NAO, Gareth Davies, said: ‘We hope the review will secure the improvements in quality and sustainability that are needed.’
In response to a DfE call for evidence in July, president of the Society of County Treasurers, Gary Fielding, said: ‘To be able to come up with a solution to the current funding issues it [the Government] needs to know in detail why there has been such an explosion in children with SEND and then both come up with policy initiatives to stem demand (probably investment in early help) and ensure the most cost-effective services are in place to meet needs.’
Local government secretary Robert Jenrick told The MJ the Government had heard the message on SEND ‘very strongly’ from councils.