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Ofsted and CQC launch consultation on SEND

A consultation setting out proposals for a new joint framework for inspecting provision for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) within a local area has been launched by Ofsted and The Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The new inspections will be introduced in early 2023 and the new framework will focus on the experiences and outcomes of children and young people with SEND.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, said: “The past two years have been challenging for all of us, but the pandemic was particularly hard for the most vulnerable in society.

“In that time Ofsted has continued to engage closely with the SEND sector, including bodies representing children and young people with SEND and their parents and carers. That has allowed us to develop and refine the proposals for a new framework.

“I welcome responses from the sector whether that be parents, carers or children and young people themselves to help us shape our plans further. Working together, we can ensure that every child gets the best start in life, whatever their background or needs,” she added.

The new framework will strengthen accountability for local areas by:

•             Introducing an ongoing cycle of inspections and three distinct inspection outcomes.

•             Conducting engagement meetings in all areas.

•             Strengthening Ofsted’s response where there are concerns through monitoring inspections and/or early re-inspections.

•             Promoting continuous improvement by requesting visible action plans following full inspections.

The consultation sets out three inspection outcomes with recommendations around the interval between inspections based on the findings. For example, where SEND arrangements result in positive experiences for children and young people, SEND provision would be inspected every five years, but where there are systemic failings, the next full inspection will be within approximately three years with a monitoring inspection carried out within approximately 18 months.

1) The local area partnership’s SEND arrangements typically lead to positive experiences and outcomes for children and young people.

The next area SEND inspection will be within approximately 5 years.

Ofsted and the CQC ask that the local area partnership updates and publishes its strategic planning based on the recommendations set out in this report.

2) The local area partnership’s SEND arrangements lead to inconsistent experiences and outcomes for children and young people; the local area partners must work jointly to make improvements.

The next area SEND inspection will be within approximately 3 years.

Ofsted and the CQC ask that the local area partnership updates and publishes its strategic planning based on the recommendations set out in this report.

3) There are widespread and/or systemic failings leading to significant concerns about the experiences and outcomes of children and young people with SEND, which the local area partnership must address urgently.

A monitoring inspection will be carried out within approximately 18 months; the next full inspection will be within approximately three years.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector requires the local area partnership to prepare and submit a priority action plan (area SEND) to address the identified areas for priority action.

Inspection teams will be made up of inspectors from education, health and care so that there can be a deeper understanding of how effective joint working is in a specific area. Inspections will also focus on children in alternative provision, where many children have SEND, by evaluating how local authorities commission, use and oversee it.

Furthermore, there will be a greater push to gather evidence from children and young people with SEND and their families directly, as well as from area leaders, practitioners, and settings, so that inspectors understand what it is like to be a child or young person with SEND in any local area in England.

The consultation, which runs from today to September 11, is part of a range of engagement activities Ofsted and CQC will be doing with the sector, children and young people, parents, and carers.

The consultation is available here with a closing date of 11 September.

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