To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that local health partners are playing an equitable role alongside local government in supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities.
Creating an effective inter-agency approach, where local government works in partnership with health partners to meet needs, is a key feature of the reforms to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) system introduced in the 2014 Children and Families Act.
We introduced joint Ofsted/Care Quality Commission local area inspections of SEND services in May 2016 to hold services to account and support them with improving. Where issues with performance are identified, including following a SEND inspection, the Department for Education (DfE), Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England collaborate to drive improvement.
In addition to the inspections, we have strengthened joint accountability through the introduction of a 2-year trial, which began in April 2018, extending the remit of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND) to make non-binding recommendations on health and social care elements of education health care (EHC) plans.
To improve timeliness, the 2017-18 NHS Provider Contract for NHS Trusts included a new requirement to report on meeting the 6-week deadline for health input into EHC plans.
We are clear that strong strategic leadership across health, education and care is key to effective SEND services and we have:
Established a new joint SEND system leadership board, with representatives from education, health and social care, working alongside joint roundtables chaired by Ministers from both DfE and DHSC.
Established a national network for Designated Medical Officers and Designated Clinical Officers, funded a local authority-led regional network and developed resources to support joint self-assessment and peer review.
Funded a consortium of partners, including the Condition Data Collection, to work with health and social care services, including producing guidance on effective joint commissioning and improving EHC plans.
Funded a SEND leadership programme and legal training for all local authorities and their health partners to ensure they are clear on their statutory responsibilities.
We have also re-emphasised the requirement to jointly commission Information, Advice and Support (IAS) Services across health and the local authority through our new minimum standards, backed by £10 million investment through the IAS programme.