One of the four priority areas for the NNPCF this year is to improve the accountability across the SEND system – to ensure that those bodies with responsibilities to support children and young people with SEND actually deliver what they are required to (please see the presentation at our AGM in March for the other priorities Microsoft PowerPoint – AGM slides 20210315 (contact.org.uk))
We are actively working to improve this accountability across three separate projects:
The Single Route of Redress
For the last 3 years, a national trial has been running that allows the SEND tribunal to make non-binding judgements on health and social care services, if there is also a valid educational concern. The evaluation period for the trial has now ended and Ministers are due to make a decision about whether to mainstream the trial powers of the tribunal. The trial period itself ends on the 31 August 2021.
The NNPCF has been clear that we would like to see this trial made permanent and has been participating in meetings with the Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice. Although not possible at present, we would also like to see the powers of the tribunal extended to make binding recommendations on health and social care in the future.
You can see the quarterly updates from the single route of redress national trial here Newsletters – Mott MacDonald (sendpathfinder.co.uk)
Local area inspections
Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission have been looking at how the next round of local area inspections should be structured. It is clear that the focus will need to move from an implementation of the SEND reforms onto an assessment of how well local areas are meeting the needs of CYP with SEND and improving outcomes. As a part of this we would like to see the inspectorate focus on things such as how well do local education, health and care plan and deliver services together, how SEND money is spent in the system, early
intervention, inclusion in mainstream schools and coproduction with families and parent carer forums.
We are also pleased to see that the current round of local area inspection are due to resume. See the announcement and guidance from Ofsted. Ofsted: coronavirus (COVID-19) rolling update – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The SEND review
We also believe that legislative and regulatory changes to the SEND system are required to improve accountability. We have shared these ideas with the SEND review team. These include:
· A consistent national definition of services that available to families with some minimum standards
· Time limits lined for delivery of services
· Guidance on who pays for what across the system
· More transparency on how money is spent
· Gather smarter statistics to show where services are not meeting standards
You can see more on the input we have put into the SEND review in our presentation to the joint NNPCF / Contact conference in March.