Spring Term Update 2019

Some of you reading this will already be on your Easter break but many of you will be counting down the hours until Friday when you will get your well – deserved Easter holiday. I hope you all manage to get some rest and relaxation after a very long term.

I have brought together the key SEND documents and information that have been launched this term (probably less than normal due to the government being involved in other things!)

Statements of SEN and EHC plans: England, DfE January 2019

Updated information on statistics and analysis on statements of special educational needs (SEN) and education, health and care (EHC) plans in England. This now includes national and local authority tables.


One of the largest mental health trials launches in schools – DfE – February 2019

To mark Children’s Mental Health Week (4-10 February), the Education Secretary Damian Hinds announces that up to 370 schools in England will take part in a series of trials testing different approaches to supporting young people’s mental health.

Children will benefit from mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to help them regulate their emotions, alongside pupil sessions with mental health experts. The study will run until 2021 and aims to give schools new, robust evidence about what works best for their students’ mental health and wellbeing.

NHS England also announced two initiatives that they were leading on:

  • Establishing new Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) – to develop models of early intervention on mild to moderate mental health issues, such as exam stress, behavioural difficulties or friendship issues, as well as providing help to staff within a school and college setting. The teams will act as a link with local children and young people’s mental health services and be supervised by NHS staff

There are twenty-five Trailblazer areas across England. They are Newcastle, Hertfordshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, Camden, Northumberland, Stoke on Trent, Swindon, Berkshire West, Tower Hamlets, South Tyneside, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hounslow, Liverpool, South Warwickshire, North Kent, Haringey, Doncaster & Rotherham, North Staffordshire, Bromley, Kirklees, SW London HCP, West London, Greater Manchester.

  • Trialling a four-week waiting time for access to specialist NHS children and young people’s mental health services, building on the expansion of NHS services already underway.

The pilot authorities are Northumberland, Stoke on Trent and North Staffordshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, Camden, Doncaster and Rotherham, South Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Tower Hamlets, Haringey, Bromley, Greater Manchester.

The DfE are also currently considering the role and responsibilities on the Designated Senior Lead for Mental Health as outlined in the Green Paper – Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health. They are considering a specification for the role as well as what training will be required for someone to undertake this role effectively.

Working together to safeguard children – Updated – February 2019 – DfE

This document was updated to reflect how local authorities should notify the Child Safeguarding Panel.


New training for health visitors to boost early language skills – DfE – February 2019

Health visitors – who routinely do home visits to check on a child’s development at age two – will receive additional training to identify speech, language and communication needs early on, with a new assessment and support package.

Specialist training will be provided for 1,000 health visitors who will work in some of the most deprived communities in England, as part of the Government’s drive to tackle the ‘word gap’ – the gap in communication skills between disadvantaged children and their peers.


National voluntary pilot

A national voluntary pilot of the check will take place between 10 June and 28 June 2019. Schools and pupils are now able to access the MTC system, which includes the pupil ‘try it out’ area, to familiarise themselves with the check so that they are ready for the pilot in June, and before the check becomes mandatory in June 2020.


Reception baseline assessment – STA – February 2019

The Standards and Assessment Agency (STA) have produced further information about the development of an assessment for pupils in reception to measure their progress in primary schools from 2020.

Schools will carry out the assessment within the first 6 weeks of children starting school. It will be an activity based assessment of pupils’ ability in:

  • language, communication and literacy
  • mathematics

The assessment will be age appropriate, last approximately 20 minutes and teachers will record the results on a laptop, computer or tablet. It will not be used to label or track individual pupils. No numerical score will be shared, and the data will only be used at the end of year 6 to form the school-level progress measure. However, teachers will receive a series of short, narrative statements that tell them how their pupils performed in the assessment at that time. These can be used to inform teaching within the first term.


Reception baseline assessment framework – STA – February 2019

The reception baseline assessment will provide the basis for a new way of measuring the progress primary schools make with their pupils. Unlike the current progress measure, this will give schools credit for the important work they do with their pupils between reception and year 2. The assessment framework provides details about the assessment for the pilot year, including information about the content of the assessment and its design.


Governance handbook and competency framework – March 2019 – DfE

An updated version of this guidance on the roles and duties of governing boards, and advice on the skills, knowledge and behaviours they need to be effective has been published.

The ‘Governance handbook’ explains:

  • governing boards’ roles and functions
  • their legal duties
  • where they can find support
  • the main features of effective governance

Section 6.4.11 on page 69 onwards outlines the legal duties of governing bodies/trustees in relation to SEND.

The ‘Competency framework for governance’ sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours that school and academy governing boards need to be effective.

The ‘Competency framework for clerking sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to provide professional clerking to school and academy governing boards.


Multi-million pound fund to train more educational psychologists in schools – March 2019 – DfE

On 20th March the Department for Education outlined plans to support more young people with additional educational needs by launching a procurement exercise for experts to come forward and kickstart specialist training for more Educational Psychologists. The multi-million pound fund will see over 600 Educational Psychologist trainees receive free tuition and grants.


Alongside this announcement was the publication of the educational psychologist workforce research. This research maps the distribution and demographic profile of local authority educational psychologists in England and it also provides evidence on factors affecting shortages of trainee and qualified educational psychologists in some local authorities.


School inspection update: academic year 2018 to 2019 – Ofsted – March 2019

The March issue of Updates for inspectors and stakeholders with the latest information and guidance about Ofsted’s inspection work in schools is now available.


Thousands of places created in new special free schools – DfE – March 2019

On 11th March the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, announced that around 3,500 extra school places were to be created for pupils facing the biggest challenges in their education.

Every region in the country will benefit from a new school, which include 37 special free schools and two alternative provision free schools.


Relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education: FAQs – April 2019 – DfE

The Department for Education is introducing compulsory Relationships Education for primary pupils and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) for secondary pupils from September 2020. Also, from September 2020 it will be compulsory for all schools to teach Health Education.

Through these subjects, the DfE want to support all young people to be happy, healthy and safe – they want to equip them for adult life and to make a positive contribution to society.

There have been a number of common misconceptions around the subjects and so the DfE have published FAQs to support schools.


On Monday 25 February, the department published the updated statutory guidance and the government’s response to the consultation on the draft statutory guidance and regulations.

Draft Statutory Guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/relationships-and-sex-education-and-health-education

The department is looking for schools to act as early adopters of this curriculum and begin teaching the new subjects from September 2019. The department wants a strong reference group of schools to work with, leading up to and during the academic year 2019 to 2020, as support and training materials are prepared for full compulsory teaching. This approach allows early adopter schools the opportunity to assist the department to shape the advice for schools.

If your school is interested please visit the DfE website: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/RSHEearlyadopterschool/

Home education: call for evidence and revised DfE guidance – April 2019 – DfE

The long awaited response to the consultation on Home Education was finally published on 2nd April 2019.


New Guidance for local authorities and schools about children educated at home called Elective Home Education.

This guidance details local authorities’ roles, responsibilities and the legislation they need to follow. It also includes information on home schooling funding.


Autistic people asked for their views to help transform support

Autistic people, their families and those caring for them are being asked for their views on how care and support in England can be improved.

The call for evidence is part of the cross-government review of the national autism strategy, which will be refreshed and launched later this year. The strategy will be extended to cover children as well as adults, so services work better for autistic people of all ages.

The government wants to hear from autistic people, their families and their carers about their experiences of care and support.

This consultation closes at 16 May 2019.




pdnet Standards and training

pdnet is a long-established national organisation that provides professionals in education with support in promoting positive outcomes for children and young people with physical disability.

Pdnet recently secured some DfE funding and have produced the pdnet standards. The pdnet Standards provide a practical structure for schools and settings to self-evaluate current provision and reflect on the effectiveness of their organisation in meeting the diverse needs of children and young people with physical disability. A set of Standards has been developed for all three educational phases: Early Years, Schools & Post-16. Four key areas identify the knowledge, skills, actions and attitudes needed to successfully support and nurture a learner with a physical disability


They are also offering Level 1 training – the free online training modules are designed for anyone working within an educational setting who needs to develop their awareness and understanding of physical disability and the impact it can have on learning.


Girls and Autism

The NAHT recently hosted an excellent conference dedicated to Girls and Autism. The day was very well attended and also saw the launch of a new book Girls and Autism – Educational, Family and Personal Perspectives. The book is edited by Barry Carpenter, Francesca Happë and Jo Egerton and is published by Routledge. Every chapter gives a different ‘voice’ to this much needed topic.

Girls And Autism

The SENCO Forum

Many of you will have been aware of the SENCO Forum that was supported by the DfE. This has now moved to the SEND Gateway and has been updated. It is a really useful forum for SENCOs to ask questions and share views and opinions. If you would like to subscribe visit: https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/ and click on SENCO Forum

Statements of Special Educational Needs, Education, Health and Care Plans and a bit more – “The Noddy Guide”

This document produced by David Wolfe QC, Matrix Chambers and Leon Glenister, Landmark Chambers is intended to support parents, schools and local authorities in applying the law when making decisions about SEND. It identifies those legal cases that have set precedents since the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014.


Autumn Term Update

I hope you have all had a restful break and are ready to embark on a new term. Although last term was quite quiet in terms of SEND news (I think the government have other things on their mind) there were a few updates that you might have missed.

NAHT – Empty promises – the crisis in supporting children with SEND

In June NAHT sought the views of our members on their experiences in relation to the education of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).  They received over six hundred responses to their online survey, which gave powerful testimony of an education system struggling to meet the needs of its most vulnerable pupils.

Key findings:

  • Only 2% of respondents reporting that the top up funding they received was sufficient to meet individual Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) or statements for pupils with SEND
  • 94% of respondents finding it harder to resource the support required to meet the needs of pupils with SEND than they did two years ago
  • 83% not receiving  ANY  funding from health and social care budgets to support pupils with statements or EHCPs
  • 30% of respondents not receiving services from health and social care to support their pupils.

To read the full report: https://www.naht.org.uk/news-and-opinion/news/funding-news/empty-promises-the-crisis-in-supporting-children-with-send/

Mental Health and Well-Being in Schools

This document outlines a project to understand how policies that schools publish support their mental health provision it also includes information on statutory duties and pupil well-being.

This report summarises a research project on the information schools provide to support their pupils’ wellbeing and mental health.

The report uses a sample to evaluate activities and approaches in different schools, including:

  • What policies schools currently publish?
  • How policies can help schools promote pupil wellbeing?


Revisits to local areas with a Written Statement of Action (WSoA) for SEND

The Department for Education recently announced a programme of revisits to those local areas which were asked to produce a WSoA following their SEND inspections. The revisits programme is due to start in December 2018 and will run alongside the current programme of local area SEND inspections.

They will visit within 18 months of the WSoA being declared fit for purpose.

What schools must publish on-line – DfE – Updated October 2018

The DfE have recently updated their two documents- What maintained schools must publish online and What academies, free schools and colleges should publish online. These two documents set out the information that maintained schools, academies, including 16 to 19 colleges and any educational institution that has academy arrangements, should publish on their websites.



Pioneering new approach to assessing pupils with complex disabilities to be introduced in schools

On 22nd November Nick Gibb, School’s Standards  Minister, announced that a new approach to enable primary schools to better assess pupils with the most complex needs will be rolled out across the country from 2020.

New statutory assessment will replace P scales 1 to 4 and will be based on the ‘7 aspects of engagement’, an assessment approach that focuses on pupils abilities in specific areas like awareness, curiosity and anticipation.

This assessment approach will – for the first time – enable every kind of progress made by these pupils to be identified. This addresses a key issue with P scales, which focused on linear progress, which is not always how children with the most complex needs progress. This will help teachers to best tailor their teaching and provision to meet the pupils’ specific needs and to allow them to achieve the best possible outcomes.

A detailed guidance and training package will be developed and provided for stakeholders, including schools, local authorities, Ofsted and parents. This will equip them with the skills and confidence to conduct and understand the assessment in a way that will minimise additional workload burdens, building upon the best practice of schools that are doing it well.

7 aspects of engagement pilot: qualitative evaluation – STA – November 2018

This evaluation report was produced by IFF Research, working in partnership with Dr. Debs Robinson (University of Derby).

It looks at the use of the 7 aspects of engagement as a summative assessment tool at the end of key stages 1 and 2 for pupils who are working below the level of the national curriculum and not involved in subject-specific study.

The pilot ran from January to July 2018 and involved 55 primary schools.


Health and safety: responsibilities and duties for schools – DfE – November 2019

The Department for Education have updated their guidance on the health and safety responsibilities and duties on schools.


They have also updated their guidance to help schools understand their obligations when undertaking educational visits and other out of school activities.


Approaches to assessment without levels in schools – DfE – December 2108

This research examines the types and range of non-statutory assessment approaches in use in primary and secondary schools since 2014. Findings relate to the following key areas:

  • schools’ changes to assessment and their impact on teachers and pupils
  • communication with pupils and parents
  • schools’ use of information and support for assessment without levels
  • current non-statutory assessment practice

This research was conducted following the commission on assessment without levels report to further develop knowledge of in-school assessment practices.


New funding to support children with special educational needs – DfE – December 2018

The Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced on 16th December that councils will receive an additional £250 million over the next two years on top of the £6 billion already provided for the high needs budget this year, to provide much needed support for children and young people with complex SEND.

Families will also benefit from more choice for their child’s education through an extra £100 million investment to create more specialist places in mainstream schools, colleges and special schools, giving more children and young people access to a good school or college place that meets their individual needs. This could include more state-of-the-art facilities, such as sensory rooms and specialist equipment.

On top of this, more special free schools will get the green light, as the Education Secretary confirms he will approve all high quality bids in the current round of special and alternative provision free schools applications, creating even more choice for parents.


Ofsted Annual Report 2017/18: education, children’s services and skills – Ofsted – December 2018

The Annual Report looks at schools, early years, further education and skills and children’s social care for the academic year 2017 to 2018.

Ofsted’s findings are based on inspection evidence from around 30,000 inspections of, and visits to, schools, colleges and providers of social care, early years and further education and skills. The report also draws on findings from their research and analysis this year.


Changes to the Ofsted Inspection Framework

Ofsted have recently published videos and slides to explain their curriculum research.

The videos can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLq-zBnUkspPXjODb3PJ4gCqNc2LvfhSh

The slides are available at: https://www.slideshare.net/Ofstednews/working-towards-the-eif-2019-ofsteds-approach-schoolsh

The National SENCO Workload Survey

In September 2018, Bath Spa University, nasen and the NEU launched the National SENCO Workload Survey. The survey aimed to understand the nature of the SENCO workload across varying contexts in order to capture the breadth and depth of the SENCO role.

The final report is now available from the NEU website – https://neu.org.uk/latest/impact-senco-workload-professional-and-school






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