March 2023

The Department for Education has published a SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan, as the latest stage of the Government’s SEND Review. This is a follow-up to last year’s green paper on SEND reform, and includes a summary of responses the Government received to their public consultation on the green paper.

The Improvement Plan sets out how the Department for Education intends to proceed with the proposed changes in the green paper.

The main thing to note is that it contains no plans to change the law on support for children and young people with SEND. In the absence of any legislative change, the current SEND legal framework set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Regulations continues to apply in its entirety.

The Government says that it remains committed to the reforms proposed in the green paper, including a “tailored list” of education settings for children and young people with EHC plans and mandatory mediation before families can appeal to the SEND Tribunal. However, these things can’t be introduced without changing the current law. The proposed changes will be tested through a SEND Change Programme in a limited number of areas, and children and young people’s existing rights will be unaffected.

 IPSEA’s CEO, Ali Fiddy, commented:

 “The most notable aspect of the Government’s SEND Improvement Plan is that it contains no plans to change the existing law on support for children and young people with SEND. That means local authorities must follow the law, parents can continue to rely on it and the SEND Tribunal will continue to apply it. While there are things to welcome – such as more guidance for local authority SEND case-workers and, eventually, a long-overdue single national template for EHC plans – there are undoubtedly some mixed messages.

“It’s hard to see how the imperative of containing costs can be met without restricting the provision that children and young people receive, which is unlikely to be lawful. Perhaps most disappointing is the complete absence of any specific plans to address the persistent non-compliance with the law by many local authorities – an issue that the Government has heard about repeatedly and which lies at the root of the SEND crisis.”

You can read IPSEA’s response to the SEND green paper here.