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SEND policy must be co-produced with parents – DR UK

16 July 2021

Children’s Minister Vicky Ford MP has said that existing legal entitlements for children and young people with SEND are under review, as part of the ongoing and long-awaited SEND Review.

The law was last changed in 2014 when SEND reforms created the Children and Families Act. Now, despite concerns that it's not the law itself that's the problem but local authority adherence to it, the long-overdue SEND Review appears to be about to shake up the legislation again.

Children’s Commissioner for England Rachel de Souza said: “The impact of the last year and a half on children’s lives has been enormous – not only bringing into focus the many generational problems facing young people, but multiplying and accelerating some of them.

“As we come out of the pandemic, this should be the moment to tackle them with best practice, new ideas and big ambitions. We owe it to children for the huge sacrifices they have made for us, despite them being at least risk of becoming ill.

“We must start with children and families placed at the heart of our thinking – designing systems around them so we can better achieve more integrated services that best meet their needs, and which give children the best opportunities to prepare for adulthood and live healthy and successful lives.

In order to do this, we need reform, both of children’s social care and the SEND system, and this reform needs to make sense as a whole.

“I don’t underestimate the challenges, but I believe that we can bring about reform by focusing first on what we can achieve. The SEND review, the Care Review and the Integrated Care System white paper are all important elements for making strong and lasting change and give us an opportunity to tackle some of the long-standing problems that have held back some children.”

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “We welcome the recognition that children and families must be at the heart of thinking, but to say we must be “focusing first on what we can achieve” rings alarm bells. What can be achieved has been woefully underestimated when it comes to SEND for decades. Policy has been unambitious and under-resourced. Surely what needs to come first is deep listening to those who know best – parents of SEND children, and SEND young people themselves. Co-design of policy is critical to it being a success.”

Read more about the SEND Review on Special Needs Jungle.