Local authorities place children with statements of special educational needs (SEN) in non-maintained and maintained special schools. Local authorities are under a duty to arrange appropriate provision for such children so that their SEN are met and to review the statement at least annually to ensure that the provision continues to meet the child's SEN.
Local authorities have Ofsted inspection reports available to help them assess a special school's overall effectiveness. The annual report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of schools in 2009/10 found on assessment of overall effectiveness that 35% of maintained special schools were outstanding, 43% were good, 17% were satisfactory and 5% were inadequate. The report also noted that “one of the successes reported this year is the effectiveness of many [non-maintained] residential special schools, often outstanding at helping children achieve and enjoy what they do”.
The schools White Paper, ‘The Importance of Teaching’, and the Green Paper, ‘Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability’, set out a strong strategic role for local authorities acting as the champions for parents and families, vulnerable children, and educational excellence. For disabled children and those with SEN, the Green Paper sees one of the core features of the local authority role as working collaboratively with providers to commission a range of high quality provision, and to identify and challenge services that are letting down families.