On 29th March 2022, the SEND Review green paper was published. The paper outlines the challenges of the current SEN system that all those working within it are well aware of. It presents proposals to develop a system in England that sets clear standards for the provision children and young people with SEN should receive, regardless of their need or where they live.

The report outlines three key challenges facing the current SEND system:

  1. Poor outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or who are in alternative provision (AP)
  2. Navigating the SEND system and AP is not a positive experience for children, young people and their families
  3. The current system does not deliver value for money for children, young people and families

We are pleased to see the government’s recognition that settings are frequently ill-equipped to identify and effectively support needs, and that children and young people face delays in accessing support, often resulting in their difficulties escalating and becoming entrenched.

The report outlines a vicious circle within the SEND system; reduced confidence in mainstream schools meeting a child’s needs, leading to parents seeking an EHCP (and in some cases specialist provision), leading to more financial resources and workforce capacity pulled to the specialist end of the system, and less available support to deliver early intervention and targeted support in mainstream settings.

Therapy services such as speech and language therapy are in short supply with long waiting lists and huge disparity in terms of the support available across the country.

The key proposals of the paper include to:

  • Set new national standards for SEND and AP
  • Update the SEND Code of Practice
  • Create local SEND partnerships to produce a local inclusion plan
  • Introduce a standardised and digitised EHCP process and template
  • Improve mainstream provision built on early and accurate identification of needs, including high-quality teaching
  • Provide prompt access to targeted support where needed, alongside a strong specialist

The report recognises that a clearer picture of the demand for support for children and young people with SEN is needed. There is also a proposal to complete an ‘analysis to better understand the support needed’. Whilst this is welcome, there is an established evidence base for the type of support that children and young people with SLCN need; pathways using a tiered framework of support, training to increase the knowledge of practitioners and families, high-quality teaching to provide inclusive communication environments, evidence-based targeted intervention as needed, and access to specialist services as needed.

The green paper is now open for a 13-week consultation and we will be sending a longer response as part of this process. We hope the outcome will provide timely recommendations for the implementation of evidence-based tiered frameworks of support for SLCN and that more funding for speech and language therapy services is forthcoming, enabling every child and young person to access the support they need, as early as possible.

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