No targets for SEND cuts? Tell us your experiences

While the Department for Education is busy “monitoring critics of government policy” (how do they have time for anything else?) we would like to ask you to do some monitoring of your own.

On Monday, we ran (and very nicely too) the DfE’s answers to some questions we posed in our article about the (apparent) fable of the 20% cuts, sorry “projection”.

However, we do wonder if the DfE has done enough to mitigate the potential—or even likely—unintended consequences of the DBV/Safety Valve programme, given the pretty steep savings many LAs must make to their high-needs spending. The problem is, as the DfE themselves pointed out, the law has not changed. Therefore, children’s special educational needs must be met with provision in the same old (inconvenient) and sometimes expensive way as ever.

So how do they square that circle? Given that needs are increasing post-pandemic, particularly anxiety-related conditions and those children whose emerging needs were missed while in lockdown, more support is going to be needed. Sometimes, no matter what the “ordinarily available provision” that may be (though usually isn’t) actually available, children will need specialist teaching, small class sizes, in-school therapy, or all of the above that a mainstream school just isn’t currently set up for.

We all want to have a situation where every mainstream school can support every child. But right now, and for the foreseeable future, the funding, training, equipment, accessibility, and often the will, just isn’t there.

Will LAs get the “no targets” message?

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Doubtless, they will have seen it, maybe even on SNJ. But will they pay any attention when they have a massive deficit and have signed up to programmes aimed at managing the same? The unintended consequences of filtered-down messages may be dire for disabled children.

While I don’t think there are evil LA bods plotting to ruin disabled children’s lives (though it can certainly feel like it!), when faced with overwhelming debt and the government breathing down your neck, the messages filtering down to front-line staff are to “review thresholds” and “manage demand for EHCPs”. And SEND teams will interpret this in exactly the way we fear.

Other language in LA documentation we have seen that is open to misinterpretation include: “help more children and young people achieve their aspirations without the need for an EHCP,’achieve better outcomes for CYP (children and young people) by placing more in mainstream instead of INMSS”, “checking the school has done two cycles of Assess Plan Do Review” (Note this is not needed before an EHC Needs Assessment)

We sincerely hope the DfE is monitoring this closely. And if not, let’s give a helping hand…

Tell us your experiences!

We are gathering evidence of on-the-ground experiences and this is where you can help with information about both SEND training and potential cuts. Below are some questions for parents and for practitioners and you can feed back to us here or in the embedded form below.

Are you a parent carer?

If you are a parent whose rising 16 or 18+ young person with an EHCP is being told it must come to an end, despite them still needing it to access further education or training, let us know. If your child’s annual review seems to have resulted in less provision, or a proposed move from specialist provision to mainstream, let us know (as well as fighting it, of course!). If you have asked for additional provision for your child and have been told the “barriers to learning” can be met by the school without any additional funding when you know differently, tell us.

Are you a SEND professional?

If you are an education, health or social care practitioner, or you work for an LA and you see something you believe is unlawful and you are uncomfortable about it, you can email us in confidence using this form. We will never pass on our sources/personal details to anyone. You are also protected by whistleblowing rules. It’s important to do the right thing to protect disabled children and young people.

How do I know if I’m in an affected area?

Check this article to find out of your LA is in a “Delivering Better Value” area. And you can find all Safety Valve LA contracts here. Links at the end will provide more information about these programmes.

What do we want to know?

We have a few wide-ranging starter-for-10-questions so that you can add your experiences, quotes from contracts, letters or emails you've been sent (don’t include any personal information about your child please). We also want to know if your/your child’s school has participated in recent SEND training and if practice has visibly improved as a result.

We have a couple of filtering questions, then:

  1. Has your/your child’s school had recent free SEND training from Whole School SEND or any other provider? If so, has it improved teaching and provision?
  2. If your child has an EHCP or you’re applying for an assessment, have you been told or heard anything that makes you suspect there is an intention for cuts (as we outlined above before the DfE’s response)

This is a longer-term project and we will be looking closely at responses to see if there are any trends or evidence.

Give your answers below

We will not reveal, share or pass on your name or email to anyone. We may follow up with you if further clarification is needed. You must fill the captcha before it will send (you may need to scroll back up a bit)

You can also find the form separately here if you have problems with the embedded form below.

Also read:

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Tania Tirraoro

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