Briefing: SEN and Disability Reform: readiness – DfE research

The Department for Education commissioned SQW in September 2011 to lead a consortium of organisations to undertake the evaluation of the Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Disability Pathfinder Programme.

This briefing provides an overview of The SEN and Disability Pathfinder Programme Evaluation: Readiness for reform and effectiveness of Pathfinder Champions Research report, detailing the findings from an assessment by SQW of local areas’ (both pathfinder and non-pathfinder) readiness to meet the forthcoming Special Educational Needs and Disability reforms (as of October/December 2013). This included a review of the initial effectiveness of the pathfinder champions as of October-December 2013.

As part of the research, SQW undertook:

• Three targeted online surveys – disseminated to all Heads of SEN, Leads for Children’s Social Care and Lead Children’s Health Commissioners

• Two open-response online surveys –aimed at providers and parent carers

• Three focus groups undertaken with young people with additional needs.

The report presents the findings, and provides a comparison, to illustrate the progress made since the previous readiness assessment in February 2013.

Arguably the most important finding from the research is that half of non-pathfinder areas who responded to the surveys had only implemented between none and three of the nine main elements of the reforms, whilst the majority of pathfinder areas had implemented, or developed, seven out of the nine elements. The report also found that progress on implementing the reforms was more advanced in SEN than in social care, and in health. Most work had been done on the development of education, health and care plans and less on key issues of eligibility criteria, joint commissioning arrangements between local authorities and clinical commissioning groups, personal budgets, and workforce development.

This briefing will be of interest to all those involved, and with an interest, in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities reforms as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 including Service Leads in SEN, health, and social care, officers, and elected members.

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