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SEND and AP Improvement Plan: Right Support, Right Place, Right Time

The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan was published on 2nd March 2023 and gives a clear plan following the SEND and Alternative Provision Green Paper, published one year ago. 

This latest plan draws together the feedback provided and attempts to align with other improvement plans and reform programmes to improve outcomes and experiences for all children and young people.

Refreshingly, there's an honest look at how the system is currently working. The plan states: “… we know from listening to children, young people and families that significant issues remain. We know that some families feel frustrated by the system and feel they need to battle to access specialist education, health or care services including from mental health services. We know that providers and services are facing delivery pressures. 

It is time to deliver a more dignified experience for children and young people with SEND and to restore families’ confidence in the system.”

There's an understanding that a lack of a joined-up approach is resulting in "systemic failings leading to significant concerns" in respect of supporting children’s social, emotional and mental health needs.

Having worked in this area of law for a number of years, these are very familiar concerns and issues faced by our clients in trying to support their children’s education. Increasingly, we are seeing families gravely concerned that their children are not receiving appropriate support  for  their  social, emotional and mental health  difficulties.  

The improvement plan sets out how these concerns will be addressed. Some key highlights include the following:

  • Development of national standards, including a template for EHCPs (Education, Health and Care Plans);
  • Development of innovative approaches for short breaks;
  • Review of social care legislation relating to disabled children;
  • Improvement of information available to families by providing a tailored list of suitable settings informed by the local inclusion plan;
  • Improvement of transitions and preparation for adulthood;
  • Review of the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) and teacher training frameworks; and
  • Strengthening accountability.

National standards will clarify the nature of supports that should be available, whose job it is to make the provisions, and which budgets should be used for the provision. This will assist in reducing delay in the support being realised and, hopefully, limit the time and stress in navigating the systems.

A key factor in all of this is the plan to improve the joined-up working of the Department of Education and NHS which will hopefully see improvement of provision for pupils with SEN and a better understanding of the support they require to experience success in education.

Further guidance will be issued following this plan and there are proposals to introduce primary legislation to establish a statutory footing for collaborative working in 2025.

Find out how our national team of dedicated SEN solicitors can support you.