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SEND announcements and opportunities: an update from the DfE


An update on the Rochford Review pilots, guidance on exclusions and information on the local area special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) inspections.

SEND – single route of redress national trial

Robert Goodwill, minister of state for children and families, has announced plans to launch the single route of redress national trial in March 2018. The national trial will expand the powers of the first-tier tribunal SEND so that it can make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of education, health and care (EHC) plans alongside the special educational aspects. 

The minister has written to directors of children's services to set out the next steps for the two-year national trial, including further detail on the support package and induction events for senior managers across SEND, health and social care that will take place in January and February. The letter has been copied to people and organisations interested and affected by these changes, including chief nurses in clinical commissioning groups via NHS England; regional and local SEND leads; parents and young people groups and organisations that represent them; and a range of voluntary and community sector organisations. A copy of the letter was attached to this email. 

The national trial builds on the ambition of the SEND reforms, which puts children and families at the centre of the assessment process. It will enable the tribunal to take a more holistic view of the child or young person's needs and encourage joint working, and it should bring about positive benefits to families.   

Guides for head teachers and parents/carers on exclusions 

A request for help in publicising this new material 

As you may be aware, the Department for Education (DfE) recently published an update of its exclusion guidance ( The guidance includes two non-statutory guides that summarise key elements of the exclusions process: one for head teachers and the other for parents/carers (annexes B and C respectively). These guides include coverage of how special educational needs and disabilities might be relevant to a school's decision-making. 

Rochford Review recommendations   

A request for schools to trial new assessments for pupils below the standard of national curriculum tests 

You may have seen previously that the DfE is inviting schools to volunteer to help with two projects to prepare for the changes recommended by the Rochford Review. The DfE has had a good response already and would like warmly to thank all those schools who have agreed to help, but they renew the request for more volunteers. They are keen to spread the net wide to capture the full range of views. 

The government's response to the Rochford Review consultation sets out plans for two important changes for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests: 

  1. For pupils engaged in subject-specific learning, it accepts the Review's recommendation that the interim pre-key stage standards are made permanent and extended to cover all of these pupils. To give schools adequate time to prepare for these changes, this will take effect from the 2018/19 academic year onwards, with the full suite of pre-key stage standards being published in the 2017/18 spring term

  2. For pupils not yet engaged in subject-specific learning, a pilot of the Review's recommended approach to assessing these pupils using the seven aspects of engagement for cognition and learning will be run in the 2017/18 academic year, before taking any final decisions on whether to implement this approach on a statutory basis. 

The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) will be working with schools to run two projects to prepare for these changes

1. Pre-key stage standards review

The pre-key stage standards will be reviewed, working with teachers and other educational experts, to ensure they are fit for purpose. This review will follow a thorough process, including an evaluation by practising teachers, head teachers and local authority representatives; an expert review to act on feedback and trialling of the final versions. We plan to publish the full suite of pre-key stage standards in spring 2018, for first use by schools in the 2018/19 academic year. 

Schools are needed to take part in the following: 

  • An evaluation in autumn term 2017 – representatives to attend a half-day panel in London in the second half of November
  • Trialling in spring term 2018 – schools to be sent assessment materials and asked to submit feedback. 

2. Pilot of the seven aspects of engagement for cognition and learning 

The pilot will run this academic year, ending in summer 2018, with approximately 50 schools assessing their pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning against the seven aspects of engagement for cognition and learning. Participating schools will receive support and guidance, including through one of eight regional teaching school hubs, on how to use the model and share practice with others. Professional researchers will conduct an evaluation of the pilot. 

Schools are needed to take part, starting from the end of the autumn term until the end of the summer term. The project will include initial set-up meetings, a mid-point feedback session in the spring term and an end-point feedback session in the summer term. 

Getting involved 

If you would like to volunteer to take part in either of these pilots or request further information, email

For any related events run by the STA, attendees will be reimbursed standard class travel expenses in full and overnight accommodation costs, and teachers' supply cover will also be paid (£190 per day including VAT). 

Ofsted and CQC inspections

Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) have published their summary of the findings from the first year of the local area SEND inspections. Read the report here.

Find individual local area reports are published here. 

Information from the transforming care programme

NHS England has published information for commissioners to help them develop support and services for children and young people with a learning disability, autism or both.  

This supplements the work by NDTi and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation to help local areas develop pathways for children and young people.  

An e-learning package has been developed to support all partners involved in care, education and treatment reviews to understand their role and what happens at a review. It shows what a 'good' review looks like and explains how the review panel might offer a challenge to services to think differently about the care, education and support to the child or young person that enables them to remain living with their family or in their community. 

Transforming care webinars 

NHS England holds monthly free webinars to support the transforming care programme. Last month, a parent carer spoke about the very difficult experience her son had during a crisis, his time in hospital and what may have prevented this from happening. If you missed this, there is a recording available on the NHS England's website.

On 26 October 2017, Phil Brayshaw and David Gill – a learning disability and autism adviser and expert by experience talk about how the new supplementary guidance can really make a difference for children and young people. 

On 25 January 2018 – this session looks at the work being undertaken in relation to medication for children and young people – part of the STOMP programme (stop over medication of people with learning disabilities)

On 22 February 2018 – a number of organisations that have been commissioned to develop and work with children and young people with learning disabilities and autism, and transforming care partnerships; and young people will share their experiences. 

To register for new and view past webinars, visit

Don't miss out on the 2018 Special schools, specialist and alternative provision conference - March 8 and 9, Stoke-on-Trent. Book your place here.
First published 30 November 2017