13th July 2021

A joined-up vision for children’s support will improve the lives of children with SEND

Children’s Commissioner for England

Child learning on a tablet with an adult

The impact of the last year and a half on children’s lives has been enormous – not only bringing into focus the many generational problems facing young people, but multiplying and accelerating some of them. As we come out of the pandemic, this should be the moment to tackle them with best practice, new ideas and big ambitions. We owe it to children for the huge sacrifices they have made for us, despite them being at least risk of becoming ill.

We must start with children and families placed at the heart of our thinking – designing systems around them so we can better achieve more integrated services that best meet their needs, and which give children the best opportunities to prepare for adulthood and live healthy and successful lives.

In order to do this, we need reform, both of children’s social care and the SEND system, and this reform needs to make sense as a whole. I don’t underestimate the challenges, but I believe that we can bring about reform by focusing first on what we can achieve. The SEND review, the Care Review and the Integrated Care System white paper are all important elements for making strong and lasting change and give us an opportunity to tackle some of the long-standing problems that have held back some children.

I don’t underestimate the challenges, but I believe that we can bring about reform by focusing first on what we can achieve

There is no doubt that the Covid pandemic has put new stresses on many families and the systems that support vulnerable children. The pandemic’s impact on the SEND system has materially hugely changed the context that SEND local areas, schools and those supporting children and young people with SEND are now operating in. It is vitally important that the SEND review reflects that, and I do understand why the Government has said it needs more time to ensure that any proposals from the review take full account of the unexpected changes there have been over the last 18 months.

I know children and their families, those who support them and those working in the SEND sector are impatient for change. I share that impatience, and I have made it one of my priorities as Children’s Commissioner to follow closely the progress of the SEND Review.

I intend to continue that involvement, to offer my ideas and the expertise of my office, and to challenge the SEND Review team to make sure that this once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the outcomes for children with SEND delivers the improvements the system needs.