Unveiling the SEND Landscape: Key insights from the recent conference

The recent School and Academies Show’s SEND Conference offered a powerful lens into the current state and future direction of England’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision.

A decade has passed since the Children and Families Act, intended to be a landmark reform for SEND provision. However, the picture today is one of significant challenges. The number of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) has skyrocketed by 115%, and the sector faces a staggering deficit of £1.6billion. Special and mainstream schools alike continue to grapple with a rise in complex needs.

Despite the SEND and alternative provision improvement plans focusing on national standards and digitised EHCPs, the need for a fundamental overhaul of the SEND system is widely acknowledged. Writing off the SEND deficit and fostering a significant cultural shift within the sector are seen as crucial steps forward. However, with an upcoming election looming, any large-scale reforms may need to wait.

This challenging landscape sets the stage for our exploration of collaboration as key to navigating the complexities of SEND provision. Here, Imosphere delves into the conference’s key themes, highlights, and valuable insights for local authorities navigating the ever-changing SEND landscape.

The power of partnership in a complex SEND landscape

A stark reality emerged – schools are battling a surge in complex needs. Speakers emphasised the need for innovative approaches and a shift away from traditional methods. Collaboration across disciplines and sectors was identified as a critical driver for meaningful change. Local authorities, schools, parents, and specialists must work together to share best practices, advocate for policy changes, and create a more unified support system for children with SEND.

Early intervention: the cornerstone of success

The conference highlighted the importance of early intervention in supporting children with SEND. Timely support paves the way for better long-term outcomes. A holistic approach, integrating health, social care, and education, is essential to ensure children receive the comprehensive support they need to thrive.

National standards for EHCPs: a step towards consistency

The prospect of a national, standardised format for Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) generated excitement among attendees. This promises to enhance the quality and consistency of EHCPs, improving their effectiveness in supporting children with SEND.

Funding concerns remain

Despite the encouraging focus on collaboration and early intervention, concerns regarding SEND funding remain. Speakers and attendees discussed the need for increased funding to meet the growing demand for SEND services. With the upcoming election, there’s an opportunity for LAs to advocate for SEND to be recognised as a national priority.

A new era at Ofsted: a cause for optimism

The appointment of a new Chief Inspector at Ofsted brought a wave of optimism. The focus on understanding the needs of disadvantaged children, including those with SEND, and a shift towards a more empathetic inspection approach were welcomed by attendees. This signals a potential positive change in how SEND provision is assessed.

Moving forward together beyond the conference

The SEND Conference served as a powerful reminder of the collective dedication to improving the lives of children with SEND. Local authorities have a critical role to play in driving positive change within their communities. By fostering collaboration, advocating for increased resources, and embracing innovative approaches, you can ensure a brighter future for children with SEND.

Imosphere: your partner in effective SEND provision

At Imosphere, we believe in the transformative power of collaboration. We understand the budgetary pressures faced by local authorities and share your unwavering commitment: ensuring every child with SEND thrives.

Through partnerships with leading local authorities nationwide, we’ve developed innovative SEND solutions that directly address the challenges raised at this year’s SEND Conference. These solutions foster effective collaboration and pave the way for improved outcomes for children with SEND.

Formulate for SEND: Data-driven equity and sustainability

Our flagship solution, Formulate for SEND, empowers local authorities to allocate SEND top-up funding fairly and sustainably. This data-driven tool is equipping local authorities across England to forecast future needs, ensuring long-term success and optimised resource allocation for students with special educational needs.

Contact us today