New local area SEND inspection framework launched

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have launched a new joint framework for inspecting provision for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) within a local area. 

Beginning in January 2023, inspections will focus on whether local area partnerships are delivering improved outcomes and experiences for children and young people with SEND.

The new framework will consider how local area partnerships are going beyond fulfilling their legal duties, to make a positive difference to the lives of children and young people with SEND – who were consulted on the proposals.

Inspections will now also evaluate how local authorities commission and oversee alternative provision, given the large number of children and young people with SEND in this kind of provision.

A new ongoing cycle of inspections will be introduced, with the aim of strengthening accountability across the local area partnership and supporting continuous improvement across the SEND system. There will also be a programme of monitoring inspections for areas with systemic or widespread weaknesses.

To support joint working across the sector, the inspection framework will apply a multi-disciplinary approach to gathering evidence, by deploying an inspection team that includes education, health and social care inspectors.

Any local areas inspected previously that were required to produce a Written Statement of Action (WSoA), and have not had a revisit by the end of 2022, will have a full inspection under the new framework within three years.

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, said: "Every child deserves a good education and the opportunity to reach their full potential. But for too long outcomes for children with SEND have fallen short. It’s not right that families are often left to navigate a complex system to get the support their children need.

"The need to address long-standing issues within the SEND system is more urgent than ever. Our new framework concentrates on the outcomes and experiences of young people with SEND, to highlight how the system works for them. I am grateful for all the responses we received, which helped shape our new framework, including those from young people and their families. As the sector prepares for future reform, I hope our new framework will act as a catalyst for much-needed improvement."

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