The Department for Education (DfE) has today published the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan (hereafter the Plan). The Plan sets out how DfE intends to deliver ‘a single national system that delivers consistently for every child and young person with SEND and in alternative provision’. The review of the SEND system created an opportunity to identify how the whole system can work together more effectively to realise children’s ambitions and improve the experiences of every child.
I am really pleased to see that many of the recommendations I pushed for in these SEND reforms will become a reality – particularly my call for Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) to be digitised, to improve their quality and make them more useful for young people. I am also particularly pleased by this plan’s focus on early help for families, many of whom face long, bureaucratic processes to get support for their child. My hope is that this, in addition to the increase in specialist school places, will help prevent families from reaching breaking point.
We know from The Big Ask that children with SEND were ambitious for their future, and when they received support, they were more likely to be happy with their life at school. These reforms, alongside those for children’s social care, provide a valuable opportunity to create a system that both matches their aspirations and prevents any child from falling through the gap. As I enter my third year as Children’s Commissioner, I look forward to supporting the quick delivery of these reforms. In this next year, I will continue pushing for every child, including those with SEND, to be in school every day, and I am hopeful that this plan is a positive step towards making this happen.