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SEND and AP Change Programme

West Midlands Change Programme

Telford and Wrekin have been selected as the Lead Local Authority for the West Midlands Region, working alongside Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.  

All Local Authorities in the West Midlands Region will work with the Department for Education (DfE) to pilot the SEND and AP Change Programme, sharing practice and learning from the other 8 regional areas nationally. 

This is a two-year programme. 

Overview of the Programme 

The main proposals that the SEND Review initially set out to achieve include: 

  • Creating a single national SEND and AP system aiming for greater consistency of support and provision for children with SEND.  

  • Excellent provision from early years to adulthood to ensure children and young people with SEND are prepared to thrive in employment and/or higher education.  

  • Alternative Provision to support children whose behaviour and other needs present a barrier to learning.  

  • System roles, accountabilities and funding reform to ensure clarity and effective collaboration.  

  • Delivering change so children can thrive, and families are able to navigate the system.  

Consultation led to three main areas being identified

  • Fulfil children’s potential: children and young people with SEND (or attending alternative provision) enjoy their childhood, achieve good outcomes and are well prepared for adulthood and employment;  

  • Build parents’ trust: parents and carers experience a fairer, easily navigable system (across education, health and care) that restores their confidence that their children will get the right support, in the right place, at the right time;  

  • Provide financial sustainability: local leaders make the best use of record investment in the high needs budget to meet children and young people’s needs and improve outcomes, while placing local authorities on a stable financial footing 

What is the purpose of the Improvement Plan? 

  • To test proposals to ensure they can be delivered – this will be done by working with you to gather feedback on your thoughts as to whether the proposals are effective or whether further changes need to be made 

  • To identify short steps to help stabilise the system and address immediate issues. 

What is the Aim of the Programme? 

  • To ensure that the voices of all children and young people with SEND or in alternative provision and their families are effectively heard and no group is disadvantaged in securing timely access to the right provision - irrespective of place, disadvantage, race or gender. 

  • Through the testing, iteration and evaluation of the DfE’s policy reforms, they will assess the extent to which they are enabling this ambition and refine plans accordingly. 

  • By intervening earlier in and child or young person’s life, this will help us in realising our ambition for a system that is genuinely focused on early identification and intervention. 

What are our Ambitions? 

  • SEND & AP is a complex system and previous experience of major reforms, such as in 2014, has highlighted the importance of fully understanding the implications of changes that are proposed for the sector. 

  • The SEND & AP Improvement Plan committed to a Change Programme for co-producing, testing and refining elements of an effective single national system via regional partnerships, to be underpinned in future by National Standards. 

  • Through the Change Programme Partnerships (CPPs) we are not just piloting individual changes but prototyping the new system in local areas to better understand how the reforms work together in practice across different contexts. 

  • Each CPP is testing broadly the same package of reforms, albeit with room to flex and adapt to local needs. This will help us build a clear picture of how the reforms work together, how difficult or resource-intensive the system is to implement and therefore identify what support all local areas might need to implement the changes nationally. 

  • Testing reforms collectively will also help us to spot unintended consequences created by how the reforms interact together and with the parts of the system we are not directly changing. 

  • Feedback and learning from local areas participating in the nine CPPs will allow the initial policies and guidance to be rapidly iterated and evidence of what is working (and not working) to be shared with the wider system. 

Key areas of development as part of the Change Programme 

  • A national system underpinned by National Standards 

  • Successful transitions and preparation for adulthood 

  • A skilled workforce and excellent leadership 

  • Strengthened accountabilities and clear routes of redress 

  • A financially sustainable system delivering improved outcomes 

  • Improving mainstream provision through high quality teaching and SEND training 

  • Standardise and digitise EHCPs 

What are the Reforms? 

Over the next 18 months, the Change Programme is testing a package of reforms that focus on critical elements of how SEND & AP services operate in local areas. DfE need to know about how each reform works and what it takes to implement it, but also how they interact and work together to influence outcomes in local system. 

The areas of focus are: 

  • Local Area Inclusion Plan 

  • SEND and AP Inclusion Dashboard 

  • EHCP Standardisation 

  • Multi-Agency Panels 

  • Strengthened Approaches to SEND Mediation 

  • Alternative Provision Reform – 3-Tier Model 

  • Framework for National Standards 

  • Bands and Tariffs 

  • Advisory Tailored Lists 

  • Early Language and Support for Every Child (ELSEC) 

Through testing the SEND & AP reforms, local areas will be able to evidence which interventions are working and parts of the system that need further development, helping the DfE to understand what it will take to ensure more sustainable change in the SEND system.  

The SEND and AP system will be integrated across health, education and care, with these local SEND and AP partnerships working together to produce an inclusion plan that sets out how they will work together to commission and deliver identified need so that children and young people and their parent carers will have access to inclusive support through a mainstream offer or in specialist settings including alternative provision. 

Additional information about some of the reforms we are currently working on... 

Local Area Inclusion Plan 

Local strategic planning is the foundation to ensure that there is a sufficient level of high-quality accessible provision in a local area to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND and those who need AP. SEND and AP Partnerships will amalgamate education, health and care and enable local partners to work collaboratively to meet their statutory responsibilities for children and young people with SEND and those who need AP. 

This reform covers: 

  • A new governance model for local SEND and AP Partnerships, which will include increasing transparency and accountability in decision making. 

  • A new national template that will unify existing documents to create a single local area inclusion plan. 

EHCP Standardisation 

We want to establish a single national EHCP system by 2025 which makes best practice common practice in producing and maintaining an EHCP.  

This will improve the experience of getting/ providing an EHCP but will also improve the quality of plans and thus better supporting children and young people to enjoy maximum possible independence in adulthood. It will also make it easier for partners and professionals to work in consistent ways with shared language, especially those who work across different local areas.  

Finally, a national digital system will require greater consistency. 

All EHCP statutory requirements, including eligibility for an EHCP, statutory timescales etc. are unchanged. 

The first phase of testing this reform covers: 

  • Analogue prototype for a standardised EHCP template and potentially from February/ March supporting advice templates 

  • This work has close dependencies with use of multi-agency panels to support parental confidence in needs assessment, advisory tailored lists and strengthened mediation. 

Each Local Authority is being asked to test the EHCP template with a minimum of 80 EHCPs. 

Early Language and Support for Every Child (ELSEC) 

We want to test the use of pre-registration speech & language therapy assistants to improve the identification and support of children with speech, language, and communication needs in early years and primary school settings; in turn improving access to and the quality of ordinarily available provision. 

This reform covers: 

  • The ability for local areas to develop partnerships across health and education, to form ELSEC pathfinders. 

  • Recruitment & training of innovative workforce models, e.g. support worker roles, to identify children with speech & language communication needs. 

  • Following identification, to deliver appropriate universal or targeted support. Children requiring specialist speech & language therapy will be referred via existing local pathways. 

  • This intervention will be delivered within early years & primary school setting. 

Locally we are planning to enhance the use of Talk Boost and provide some additional universal support for selected mainstream primary schools and early years settings, we anticipate that the ELSEC programme will be rolled out in 30 mainstream primary schools and early years settings across Telford & Wrekin.   

Advisory Tailored Lists 

Local Authorities will provide families with an advisory tailored list of settings to support parents, carers and young people to express an informed preference for a suitable placement, informed by early engagement with families to better understand the needs of the child and any family preferences. 

During the Change Programme, there will be no change to the existing statutory framework and parents and young people’s existing rights will be unaffected. 

We expect that advisory tailored lists will improve experiences of the placement process by illustrating choice for families, ensuring placements are suitably matched for the needs of the child or young person, and supporting LAs to strategically manage their placements and provision.  

They also have potential to improve effective co-production between LAs and families, serving as an aligned starting point, derived from standardised guidance, around which to have a conversation about the most appropriate placement.  

Local authorities will have the opportunity to advise families and guide them towards the most suitable available provision. 

What’s Next? 

Moving forward, we will be sending out regular updates about the Change Programme in the SEND Newsletter and via our local parent carer forums. This will include dates of any upcoming workshops and engagement events to allow for professionals across Health and Education Settings, as well as young people and their parents and carers to come and have their say and to give their feedback on the reforms. 

REACh Newsletter

The Reaching Excellence and Ambition for all Children (REACh) consortium is the delivery partner to the Department for Education (DfE), working with DfE and local areas to test the proposed changes to the SEND and AP System, as set out in the Improvement Plan.

Please click here for more information and to view the latest edition of the REACh newsletter