Prospect responds to DfE consultation on SEND proposals

22 July 2022

Prospect’s Education and Children’s Services Group has submitted its feedback to the Department for Education’s consultation on proposed changes to special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision (AP) system in England.

Among the proposed reforms in the green paper are:

  • establish a new national SEND and alternative provision system setting nationally consistent standards for how needs are identified and met at every stage of a child’s journey across education, health and care
  • review and update the SEND Code of Practice to ensure it reflects the new national standards to promote nationally consistent systems, processes and provision
  • establish new local SEND partnerships, bringing together education (including alternative provision), health and care partners with local government and other partners to produce a local inclusion plan setting out how each local area will meet the national standards
  • consult on the introduction of a new SENCo National Professional Qualfication (NPQ) for school SENCos and increase the number of staff with an accredited Level 3 SENCo qualification in early years settings to improve SEND expertise
  • make alternative provision an integral part of local SEND systems by requiring the new local SEND partnerships to plan and deliver an alternative provision service focused on early intervention
  • give alternative provision schools the funding stability to deliver a service focused on early intervention by requiring local authorities to create and distribute an alternative provision-specific budget

Prospect positions

On setting new national standards, Prospect said: “There is no need for another set of standards, everybody should follow the ones that already exist and deliver them.”

Prospect added:

“There is significant concern amongst our members that the introduction of standards will be used to undermine the statutory rights and entitlements for Children and Young Persons and families and this would not achieve the stated aim of the Green Paper to improve outcomes, improve the experience of CYP and families and improve value for money. We have a legal framework, unless the covert aim of the Green Paper is to repeal it.”

Prospect did express its support for the introduction of new professional qualifications for Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCo) and to strengthen training.

To successfully deliver any new system, Prospect warned that “significant and ongoing resources and funding for Local Authorities” would be needed.

Prospect also expressed its concerns about the lack of accountability in the proposals.

“There is a missing element of accountability in the Green Paper proposals, with nothing proposed beyond parent-led challenge at school level. It is essential that the effectiveness of SEN provision at SEN Support can be evaluated systemically as well as individually.”

Prospect’s full responses in its submission can be downloaded below.

SEND submission

Education and children's services

Prospect represents nearly 3,000 professionals in education, children's services, early years, commissioning and children's social care.