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To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to address the disparity in the provision of SEND support for children between different areas and local authorities in England in the upcoming Review into Support for Children with Special Educational Needs.
The department is aware of the disparity which exists in the provision of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) support between different areas of the country and has taken a number of steps to understand and address the issue.
For example, we have recently announced an additional £700 million for children with SEND in 2020-21, so every pupil can access the education that is right for them, and none are held back from reaching their potential. This represents an increase of over 11% on the funding available this year, bringing the total high needs funding budget to over £7 billion.
We are analysing responses to a call for evidence about the SEND and alternative provision financial arrangements in England. This will help us understand how the current available funding is distributed, and what improvements could be made in future.
We have also asked Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission to inspect all local areas, over a 5 year period, on how effectively they are fulfilling their duties for children and young people with SEND. Where any significant local weaknesses are identified, the department’s SEND advisers work with NHS England to provide tailored support and challenge to the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Groups. They will also signpost them to funded training opportunities and resources delivered by external contractors to maximise their impact. The local areas are revisited by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission to assess their progress over an 18 month period and the department may initiate formal intervention activities in a local area where necessary.
On 6 September 2019, the government announced the launch of a cross-cutting review of SEND provision, 5 years on from the launch of Children and Families Act 2014. The review will include education, health and care, and will allow the department to revisit consistency of support across different local areas and consider what further action may be required.