Speech & Language Link response to SEND green paper – July 2022

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29 July 2022

Speech and Language Link

Key factors to be considered when developing national standards to ensure they deliver improved outcomes and experiences for children and young people with SEND and their families

It would be useful to have a framework of screening at key ages to trigger deeper assessment for those children who are often missed, particularly in a speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) context. This should include clarity on timings, roles and communication of identification, involvement of families and the need for jointly planned support with clear timescales within which the support should begin and clarity about time-points for reviews.

It would be beneficial to identify appropriate funding to enable assessment and intervention. Monitoring, to ensure the standards highlighted are met, is required.

There should be a process for revisiting the criteria for triggering assessment if there is some disagreement about whether an assessment is necessary.

Consideration should be given as to how to ensure the occurrence of regular, multi-disciplinary monitoring (that is currently required, but often doesn’t take place).

Clarity is needed on existing ordinarily available, targeted provision that can be delivered through schools using evidenced programmes.

Developing the proposal for new local SEND partnerships to oversee the effective development of local inclusion plans (whilst avoiding placing unnecessary burdens or duplicating current partnerships)

Funding should be available to health and social care partners to ensure representation on the SEND partnership boards.

It is important to create dashboards which highlight narrowing-the-gap information, areas’ identification of needs and data about delays in service delivery. Include information on the issuing EHCPs and delivery of annual reviews.

There should be family and young people representation on the SEND partnership boards, with opportunities to comment on how the SEND system is /isn’t meeting individual needs.

The Local Offer should be easily accessible, published widely and regularly evaluated in terms of the percentage of families who access it and feel supported by it.

SEND partnership boards should have the same statutory level of accountability as safeguarding partnerships, highlighting the vulnerability of many children and young people with SEND.

There is concern that statutory multi-agency panels reviewing applications for EHCPs prior to the EHCP process will introduce another level of bureaucracy. Consider how it is possible to ensure that these panels are impartial and not making decisions based on available funding, or other aspects, rather than needs.

A process is needed for easily reinstating an EHCP for situations where step-downs to the targeted level of support fail to meet the child’s needs. This would enable families to ‘let go’ of their EHCP when it is no longer necessary and instill confidence that it could be easily reinstated.

Multi-agency group membership should be rolling, so that people on the group have a clearer understanding of whether information is understood by parents, families and professionals, rather than being blinded by being ‘within the system’.

Factors that would enable local authorities to successfully commission provision for low-incidence high-cost need, and further education, across local authority boundaries

The ability to monitor the impact of targeted level support across schools and settings (ie. to regularly receive reports on the impact of particular interventions) would be beneficial in commissioning provision.

Components of the EHCP to consider reviewing or amending when moving to a standardised and digitised version

There should be consideration of how to support people in digital poverty and in other languages through the suggested process of applying for and instating an EHCP. There is a need to ensure that the language used is clear and simple, without asking people to repeat themselves. We would suggest parental involvement in co-designing these processes.

We are pleased that consideration is being given to information-sharing protocols, as many systems for sharing information between services (and especially between education, local authorities and health) are not compatible.

There should be clarification within the EHCP about levels of funding required.

How parents and local authorities can effectively work together to produce a tailored list of placements that is appropriate for their child, and gives parents confidence in the EHCP process

‘Local SEND inclusion plan; is a much better name than the ‘Local Offer’ (which is not understood outside of specific professional roles).

It is important to ensure parents’ agreement to allocation of placements named in the EHCP.

It would be helpful to include, in the SEND inclusion plan, parental reviews of existing placements, rather than only Ofsted inspections. It would be helpful to require that the inclusion offer includes all the places that the LA currently funds pupils to attend (and information on the percentages of children who currently attend these facilities). This would support the suggested dashboard of inclusion too.

It would also be beneficial to include, in the SEND inclusion plan information, what needs each placement supports and what the requirements are for admission, so that parents can easily see what suitable placements are available for their child. Having an easily accessible system for this, similar to booking.com, would be really helpful.

We applaud the introduction of a legal duty for a named provision to admit the child or young person and suggest that there is a requirement to record interventions offered and the individual impacts of these interventions.

View of the proposed overall approach to strengthen redress, including through national standards and mandatory mediation

We are concerned that mediation that is funded by the LA may not be seen as independent. It would be helpful to understand more clearly the statement made that ‘We will make sure there is appropriate support available to parents to help them understand the mediation process and how best to engage with it.’.

The point about funding of mediation made here, also applies to the make-up and funding of the multi-disciplinary panel too. It would be helpful to explore how impartiality can be maintained.

Thoughts on the remedies available to the SEND Tribunal for disabled children who have been discriminated against by schools and consideration regarding what is effective in putting children and young people’s education back on track

In the sentence ‘Appeals to the tribunal should only need to be made in cases where parents feel that their child’s needs or proposed provision arrangements are not in line with the new national SEND standards, and mediation has not resolved the dispute.’, surely this should be ‘identification of their child’s needs’.

There is a lack of detail in the document about how to ensure children get the right support. A clear national pathway, co-produced with parents, would be beneficial to ensure there is knowledge about mechanisms for and different stages of redress and its link to the Equality Act. This should be published with each local authority’s inclusion offer.

Strengthening early years practice with regard to conducting the two-year-old progress check and integration with the Healthy Child Programme review

Although there is currently a requirement to ensure that the two-year development review and progress check are joined up, this is not the case in the majority of local authorities, causing difficulties in the efficient identification of needs, confusion for parents and delays in enabling delivery of timely, appropriate interventions. The new guidance also doesn’t ensure that this happens. Consideration should be given as to how to insist that Health Visitors and Early Years Practitioners share information as a matter of course with each other and with parents and that this does not rely on parents to pass information between each party. Data sharing agreements and managing joint data is a key priority to enable this to happen, as is appropriate funding for health visitors and recognition of early years practitioners’ skills and expertise.

A dashboard identifying the percentage of children having been assessed using the INTEGRATED review, alongside details of the areas and levels of need jointly identified through this process will aid planning and raise the profile of the Integrated Review with the Local Authority and health practitioners.

Introduction of a new mandatory SENCo NPQ to replace the NASENCo

If introduced, it is important that the NPQ award is of a very high standard and considers the likely needs of students, as well as awareness of packages for identification and support and how to implement this support in school.

There is an additional need for wider training too for non -SENCos, as well as national recognition of skills and expertise of early years practitioners in order to stabilise the workforce and ensure appropriate identification of needs and delivery of targeted interventions. (SL Multimedia run a CPD programme focusing on supporting communication and interaction difficulties which could support this offer.)

Systems to enable early years settings to access support from the LAs that do not rely on families being in receipt of DLA or the child having an EHCP are important to provide the most appropriate support at the very earliest stages after a child’s needs have been identified.

Strengthening the mandatory SENCo training requirement by requiring that headteachers must be satisfied that the SENCo is in the process of obtaining the relevant qualification when taking on the role

We strongly agree with this suggestion

Enabling both specialist and mixed MATs to coexist in the fully trust-led future

We feel that this would allow current local authority maintained special schools and alternative provision settings to join either type of MAT.

We consider it useful for specialist provision to be part of mixed MATs, as long as there is a strong understanding of the specialist support that is needed for this provision. We have some concerns that, as a lone specialist provision, this might be difficult to come by. Specialist MATs and networks are more likely to be able to provide this specialist support but, by their nature, are less likely to support wider awareness raising and training within other mainstream schools in the local area/MAT.

Other areas discussed in the chapter give rise to the following:

It would be beneficial to provide detailed training for the SEND governor e.g. through Local Government Association. This should be complemented by signposting for additional training to specific organisations supporting specific needs e.g. SL Multimedia for CPD regarding communication and interaction needs or SLCN.

Additional funding for therapies, as well as the funding to increase the workforce of Educational Psychologists is needed (especially in light of SLCN being the most prominent need in primary schools).

The development of a Designated Social Care Officer is welcomed. The need for regular meetings with the local Director of Children’s Services and the Designated Medical and Social Care Officers to plan support requirements at a strategic level in local authorities is imperative in Local Authorities.

We support the involvement of speech and language therapists in alternative provision specialist taskforces and look forward to the findings from the trials.

Opportunities for employers, providers and government to ensure that those young people with SEND can access, participate and be supported to achieve, especially regarding apprenticeships and  access routes like Traineeships

National standards on transition should include transition at all ages from EYFS to KS 1, 2, 3, 4 and apprenticeships to ensure that the welcoming organisation knows the needs of the individual child or young person and is set up to support the child or young person from day one of their attendance at the school, setting or FE / HE provider.

Data sharing protocols are required to support this information and should include opportunities for parental representation. A Common Transfer file should include health and social care information and must therefore be supported by data sharing protocols. The adjustments passport described would be beneficial for all transitions described above. We look forward to seeing the result of the pilot of the adjustments passport that will focus on employment.

Specialist training for SEND at FE should not be an option, it should be included in all FE / HE training as it should be for all teachers and practitioners of children across the age groups.

Pupils’ skills development for employment needs to be addressed in primary and secondary, not just in FE. Subjects and programmes developing non-cognitive skills are an important part of this.

A new vision for alternative provision with a view to improved outcomes for children and young people

We support the proposal ‘to create a national vision for alternative provision, 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 time-limited or transitional places in alternative provision schools.’

We also support the involvement of SEND partnerships in planning alternatives, as well as SEND provision. We are, however, concerned regarding the identification of a need to ‘communicate [decisions] to families’ rather than involving families in planning and being part of the decision-making process itself.

More detail is needed to clarify how the new proposals are significantly different from the current offer from alternative provisions and therefore how this will positively impact on children and young people.

SL Multimedia would like to emphasise the need for significant strengthening of screening and delivery of targeted support in mainstream schools as this will go a long way to reducing the need for specialist and alternative provision. Consideration can be given to aspects such as class sizes, support to teachers, CPD around SEND, packages for assessment and interventions across all age groups.

Systems for distributing existing funding more effectively to alternative provision schools, to ensure they have the financial stability required to deliver the vision for more early intervention and re-integration

We support the plan for three-year funding and budgets that are not related to student numbers and the need to engage long-term skilled staff. A clear understanding of the impact on SEMH of children and young people’s needs remaining unidentified and unmet is needed. As described above, there needs to be in place good identification and screening tools, as well as easily accessible, evidenced early intervention packages for pupils with SEND, delivered in schools.

In addition, it is important to ensure that there is funding from health services to support work in alternative provision e.g. SLT, OT etc

Introducing a bespoke alternative provision performance framework based on the proposed 5 outcomes

We support the need to identify and share best practice for alternative provision.

We would like to encourage an increased focus on effective outreach support and ask how this can be best identified. Careful consideration should be given to success criteria, for example, whether this should be more weighted towards students‘ self-esteem, friendships or to academic success. There is some concern about reintegration as a performance measure if the receiving school is not fully prepared and the child or young person is not happy and settled in the school.

A statutory framework for pupil movements to improve oversight and transparency of placements into and out of alternative provision

We agree that this is important: Monitoring student movements is important, across the board, as well as monitoring the number of moves for individual pupils and whether outcomes following those moves have been successful.

Monitoring how long a child is not attending school on a regular basis is also important, even if there is a named school which is responsible for the child. Where full-time packages are made up of a number of part-time offers, we consider that there should be one named responsible school with regular meetings held to share pupil information arising from the range of part-time offers and to plan the most appropriate path for the pupil.

Key metrics to capture and use to measure local and national performance

Any metrics selected will need to focus on the impact of delivery, not simply what is being delivered and by whom.

A national framework for funding bands and tariffs to achieve our objectives and mitigate unintended consequences and risks

There needs to be enough funding in the system at each level to ensure that pupils’ needs are appropriately met and not put off until they reach a higher requirement for funding. Clarity on who pays for support such as speech and language therapy is important, as is who is responsible for delivery at different levels e.g. targeted and specialist. It would be beneficial to avoid linking access to individuals’ funding in schools and settings to whether families access other pots of funding e.g. DLA.

National SEND Delivery Board working with local partnerships to ensure the proposals are implemented successfully

We are pleased to hear about the dedicated SEND and Alternative Provision Directorate within DfE being responsible for overseeing the development of new national SEND standards, as well as a National SEND Delivery Board that will bring together the relevant government departments with national delivery partners including parents, and representatives of local government, education, health and care to hold partners to account for the timely development and improvement of the system. It is important that there are direct links on this board to considering the support of children and young people’s Speech, Language and Communication Needs, as this is the greatest area of need as identified at primary school level.

Factors to consider for successful implementation of these proposals – barriers and enablers of success?

True partnership is required to create the changes identified in this green paper. This includes partnership with the organisations supporting SEND i.e. those in the public, voluntary and private sectors. The partnership with parents is also fundamental and it is recommended that existing systems and organisations that work to coproduce information, messages and systems with parents are involved.

Support for local systems and delivery partners to successfully transition and deliver the new national system

Managing data sharing at an individual and population level is key in developing the partnerships and joint planning needed to support children and young people with SEND and their families. Clarity of responsibility and sharing information with families about what to expect and what to do if this isn’t available is important.

Clarity on who is responsible for providing what levels of services is also vital i.e. targeted services should be provided in schools and settings so that specialist services can be provided by the specialists and access to these specialist services is not clogged by those needing targeted support. Enabling targeted support through schools will require appropriate training and access to budgets and staff that will allow for delivery of programmes. (SL Multimedia is happy to discuss how the CPD, information, assessment and intervention packages can be used to support this work.)

Additional information regarding the proposals in the green paper

We are pleased that there is recognition of the negative vicious cycle that is currently taking place, where pupils’ needs are under-identified, under-supported and where there is a strong negative impact on academic and mental health needs of pupils and their families.

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