The government has today (29 March 2022) published Right Support, Right Place, Right Time, the long-awaited results of its SEND Review.
At 104 pages long, it is a large document with a lot to digest. We will be examining it carefully, and next month we will launch a new campaign, #SENDABetterMessage, to support parents and disabled young people to get involved and share their views and stories as part of the review consultation.
But here are some day one reflections on the Green Paper.
First, it is a relief to see that it is finally here after such a long delay. And although we have concerns over some proposals, we welcome government’s stated intentions in the Green Paper to improve the support provided to children and young people with SEND and to end the postcode lottery. In particular, we welcome the commitment to change the culture and practice in mainstream education to be more inclusive and better at identifying and supporting needs. But we will need to examine the proposals carefully – and in the context of wider reforms to the school system – to see if they will actually deliver that.
The proposal for ‘local inclusion dashboards’ to make roles and responsibilities within the system clearer for parents is interesting and could be beneficial if it makes the systems more transparent and easier for parents to navigate.
However, there are proposals which are worrying. We are very concerned that the proposal that parents will only be able to chose a school from a “list of appropriate placements” is a cost cutting measure that will restrict parental choice.
We will want to look very closely at the proposals for “banding and tariffs”. Will these have the flexibility to meet individual children’s needs and, worryingly, could they be used to ration support? More optimistically, however, alongside the ‘local inclusion dashboards’ we hope they might clarify financial responsibilities between different agencies.
Finally, we are concerned that the proposal for compulsory mediation will restrict access to the Tribunal and make it harder for parents to get the support they need.
Many parents may be understandably skeptical about the Green Paper and feel that they have heard this all before. In particular, we will be looking very closely at what the document says about accountability, because that more than anything is where parents tell us the system currently falls short. But this is an opportunity for real change to the support children and families receive; and we encourage as many parents as possible to respond to the consultation and share their views. The consultation runs until 1 July, and we will have much more analysis over the coming weeks.