Read our response to the SEND reviewPublished Date: 21 Jul 2022
Note: there are separate SEND systems in each of the four nations of the UK - this SEND review applies in England only.
Over the past few months, we’ve been developing our response to a Department for Education consultation on changes to how children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are supported. This review had been long expected and so we had already done lots of thinking about key priorities for change and done lots of work to develop our evidence and case for action, working with officials and other organisations throughout.
From the start, we’ve supported the aims of the SEND review 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.” Our members have long told us that the current SEND system does not work well for deaf children.
We’ve now submitted our response to the consultation, setting out in detail the steps we think the Government need to take to improve things, as well as the areas where we think the Government needs to think again.
We would like to thank all the deaf young people and parents of deaf children who have taken part in webinars and focus groups and who have responded themselves to the consultation. We know that civil servants have been taking notes and have been impressed with the arguments made. We’ve also included them in our response.
What we’ve said
The Government has proposed lots of big changes so there’s lot of detail in our response. Here are some of the key points that we’ve made:
- The single biggest step that the Government could do to make sure the SEND system works is invest in Teachers of the Deaf and other specialists. Without this, it is difficult to see how the SEND review can be a success
- Another key gap in the SEND review is action to improve deaf awareness in mainstream schools and colleges. Deaf young people have told us that deaf awareness should be a core part of all initial and ongoing teacher training
- The involvement of Teachers of the Deaf in the age-two checks is something that would help improve support and better join up working for deaf children in the early years
- It can be hard sometimes for parents to see what support their deaf child should be getting and what ‘reasonable adjustments’ should be in place. That’s why we think the proposal for national standards could be a good thing if it helps reduce the postcode lottery in support for deaf children. However, this must not be at the cost of existing legal rights and protections
- The Government should follow through on its commitment to improve careers guidance for young people with SEND, something that our Deaf Works Everywhere campaign has been calling for. Too many deaf young people do not receive specialist careers advice or information on employment schemes and support for disabled people in the workforce.
In our response, we’ve also pressed the Government to provide reassurance on a number of key concerns:
- whilst we think the national standards have potential, we need to see the detail. In particular, there must be no narrowing of existing legal rights or any reductions in individual support
- we cannot support anything which might constrain parents’ choices or rights to appeal against any decisions made about their child. For example, the Government needs to think carefully about if and how it will introduce any ‘tailored lists of settings’ for parents
- we do not support proposals to require parents to undergo mandatory mediation if they wish to appeal against a decision made by their local authority. Instead, we think the Government should focus on improving how local authorities make decisions about SEND
- any changes to the SEND system will not succeed unless schools and local authorities are held to account if they do not follow the laws or guidance around SEND. The Government needs to do more to monitor how well the system is being followed and make it easier for parents to raise concerns.
What happens next?
Over the next few months, the Department for Education will be developing a delivery plan. We hope to work with officials to help them get the detail right where we think they are going in the right direction. We will also keep pressing for action on our key priorities and concerns, including the need for more Teachers of the Deaf.
You can also read our policy briefing which summarises what we think.