Parentkind responds to the government's SEND consultation

27/07/22

Following government announcements that it intends to make changes to the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision (AP) system in England, Parentkind has put the views of parents and carers at the heart of its response. The government released a SEND Green Paper (which is what they use to outline their ideas and provoke discussion). They have invited feedback on the proposals through public consultation.

Parents told us that many of them find the current system adversarial and struggle to secure the right educational provision and support for their child. It’s incredibly important to feed back to policymakers with evidence of parent voice on this topic, and Parentkind has done it in several ways:

SEND parent poll*

The consultation released by the DfE (Department for Education) was long and complex, and this may have put off some parents from giving their views. Parentkind's research team provided a much shorter and more accessible poll for parents of children with SEND, asking key questions about the government's main proposals. In total, 276 parents in England responded. Some of the proposals were more popular than others. This is what parents told us. 

  • 84% are supportive of the creation of new national SEND standards (6% are unsupportive). 
  • 82% support introducing standardised EHCP templates and processes, where 9% are opposed. 
  • 74% support digitising the EHCP process, where 12% were unsupportive.
  • 73% support the proposal that they will be able to choose from a tailored list of settings that meet their child’s needs with the local authority allocating the first available place in order of the parent’s or carer’s preference, where 19% oppose. However, 77% of parents are not confident this proposal is achievable, with only 20% saying they are confident.
  • 32% agree that mediation should be compulsory for parents and their child before making an appeal to the SEND Tribunal, but over half (53%) disagree.
  • 43% agree that the DfE’s new vision for alternative provision will result in improved outcomes for children and young people, but a third (33%) disagree.

The most popular suggestions for changes to current SEND provision that would make the biggest difference to families are "schools/local authorities being accountable for meeting their statutory obligations" (50 mentions); "quicker assessments and access to support" (41 mentions); "improved relations between parents and schools/local authorities" (40 mentions) and "more funding for SEND" (35 mentions).

APPG for Parental Participation in Education

Parentkind discussed the SEND Green Paper during a meeting of the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) for Parental Participation in Education in Westminster. The group heard evidence from three experts: Professor Brian Lamb, who chaired the Lamb Inquiry into Parental Confidence in SEND, Stephen Kingdom from the Disabled Children’s Partnership and Renata Blower from Special Needs Jungle. Parentkind's Head of Research was also on hand to provide parliamentarians with interim findings from the parent poll. The group provided a roundtable discussion format to talk about the strengths and weaknesses as well as the potential benefits or hidden concerns of the Green Paper proposals.

The chair of the group, Gateshead MP Ian Mearns, wrote to Will Quince, the Schools Minister who is conducting the SEND review, providing him with a summary of the key APPG discussion points. Consequently, the minister has kindly agreed to speak at a future meeting of the APPG about the outcome of the SEND consultation.

APPG for Education

Parentkind spoke to Will Quince at a meeting of the APPG for Education, and reminded the minister that regular consultation with parents following the implementation of the new proposals will be the best way to know whether or not parental confidence in the system is increasing, and outcomes for children with SEND are improving. 

*Methodology

Parentkind’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) survey was live online between 28th April and 15th July 2022, with recruitment through social media and via partner organisations. 276 parents in England responded, 91% of whom have at least one child with SEND (defined as those with, or striving to get, an EHC plan, or SEN support).

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