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New plans to improve support for children with SEND in England

Published Date: 30 Mar 2022

The Department for Education in England has launched a new consultation on plans to change how children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are supported. But what will it mean for deaf children?

Note: there are separate SEND systems in each of the four nations of the UK - this SEND review applies in England only.

Today’s consultation has been a long time coming – the SEND review was first announced in 2019 – and comes with bold ambitions to “ensure that every child and young person has their needs identified quickly and met more consistently, with support determined by their needs, not by where they live.” We strongly support the aims of the review and the focus on ending the ‘postcode lottery’ – parents of deaf children have long told us that the system does not always work well for them.

Coming up with a clear answer on what the review will mean for deaf children is not easy. There are lots of proposals in the consultation. There is also lots of detail that the Department will have to work through so we will keep a close eye on what happens.

Areas for cautious optimism

  • There are proposals to create ‘national standards’ around how children with SEND are supported. Importantly, this includes setting out the reasonable adjustments that mainstream schools are expected to make for disabled children. We think this has the potential to help make sure that every deaf child gets the basics they need to do well.
  • The Department also want to improve careers guidance for young people with SEND, something that our Deaf Works Everywhere campaign has been calling for.
  • There are also plans to review and strengthen the checks that take place when a child is aged 2. We will be pressing for more specialist involvement from Teachers of the Deaf in these checks.

Areas where we would like the Department to do more

  • We think that Teachers of the Deaf have a key role to play in the SEND system. Disappointingly though, there was very little in the review about Teachers of the Deaf and the role of local authority specialist education services for deaf children. We think this is a missed opportunity not to act on the massive decline we’ve seen in numbers of Teachers of the Deaf over the last ten years.
  • Making sure that teacher training covers SEND. The review highlights the work already being done in this area but doesn’t propose anything new. Deaf young people have told us that classroom teachers need better deaf awareness and we think that initial and ongoing teacher training needs to be strengthened to reflect this.

Areas of concern, where we need to see the detail

  • The Department have been clear that a specialist placement is needed for some children. However, they also think that some children are being given a specialist placement when a mainstream school would meet their needs, if more money was being spent on early intervention and inclusion. We will need to look closely at the proposed changes and the detail to understand what this means for parental choice and for deaf children for whom a special school is right for them.
  • The Department also wants new local SEND partnerships to be set up to create inclusion plans for each area. As the number of deaf children are relatively low compared to other types of SEND, we’re worried that the needs of deaf children might end up being overlooked.

More detail on what we think can be found in our policy briefing

What next?

There are lots of different views on how the system should change for children with SEND. To make sure that the needs of deaf children aren’t overlooked, it will be really important that as many people as possible respond to the consultation and have their say on the changes we need for deaf children.

The consultation will close on the 22nd July. You can read the consultation and have your say by going to the Department for Education website, There is also a version of the consultation in British Sign Language, as well as a guide for young people

We will be putting together a guide on the consultation for parents to support everyone who wants to fill in the consultation. You can also ask us questions about the review or consultation process – just email [email protected]

We understand that the Department will be running focus groups on their proposals – look out for more information on these on our social media accounts.

We will be working on a detailed response over the next few months and talking to deaf young people, families and professionals about the review and any other changes we need to see – watch this space. 

We will also have some actions you can take soon to make sure your MP knows about the SEND review and how crucial it is for deaf children. There will be the option to meet with your MP when you email them – don’t forget we can support you to do this if you’re unsure. If you’d like, we can join you in the meeting, send you information about your MP in advance and organise and pay for communications support. Or, anything else you think might help!