How to respond

To support the NEU response to the Green paper, it is important that the DfE receives responses from teachers, support staff, school leaders, parents and Union groups on the proposals.

Use the briefing notes below to put together your own response, including examples of good practice from your own workplace and what you think the DfE/Government should be doing to improve SEND provision. 

Send your response

If you are unsure about writing your response, there is also a form of around 22 questions you can submit.

The closing date for responses is 22 July 2022.

The SEND and Alternative Provision Green Paper must be considered along with the Education White Paper and Schools Bill. To improve the experience for SEND students and the staff who work with them, the entire education system must be overhauled.

Briefing notes to inform your response

SEND specific issues:

  • There is no focus on celebrating all types of success and supporting young people to be their best selves.  The system described in the Green Paper is a one size fits all model which discriminates against many SEND students.
  • What has not been recognised at all is the fact that when schools identify a child as potentially having special educational needs the wait times for assessment, diagnosis, getting an EHC plan in place and eventually releasing additional funds to support the child takes far too long. 
  • There is no mention of additional funding or resource going into the specialist services for SEND, mental health and behaviour.
  • There is only one paragraph in the 100-page document that mentions support staff.   This is poor, considering the vital role that they play in working alongside teachers in mainstream and special school classes.  Three fifths of NEU support staff say workload is either unmanageable or only just manageable.
  • Develop funding bands and tariffs for SEND (to act as a ceiling) - this is to ‘make the system sustainable’.  It is a one size fits all approach which should not be applied to SEND children. This will affect individualised support which will have the knock-on effect of leaving children in mainstream schools without adequate measures to support need and class teachers and support staff expected to pick up the pieces and provide specialist SEND support without the training or professional knowledge to do so. 
  • Standardised and digitalised EHC Plan – this is generally welcomed by the sector as being useful for students moving between LAs and for transition. There is some concern about a ‘list’ of schools being included in the EHC plan for parents as this may not be the best provision for the child but instead the most ‘value for money’ option.  It may place students in inappropriate provision and place additional pressures on schools.
  • Increase teacher confidence in SEND provision – There is not enough training in ITT or the Early Career Framework on embedding inclusive practice. Too much emphasis is on quality first teaching without recognising that schools need input from specialist services and waiting times for assessment and diagnosis need to be reduced.  There is no consideration of the reduced numbers of support staff in mainstream classes and the vital role they play in working alongside teachers as part of the professional class team enabling inclusive practice to take place.  
  • National Standards -worried about their use as they are linked to the new tariffs and banding funding of EHC provision
  • New SENCO qualification (NPQ consultation)– A more managerial role is proposed for SENCOs with the new National Professional Qualification (NPQ) – The NEU has been calling for the SENCO to be on the SLT for years-so.  This will not, however, make a difference to the capacity and workload of the role if they are still not able to call on specialist services or make referrals in a timely manner. 

Alternative Provision Issues:

  • The new model of AP support focusses largely on addressing behavioural issues within mainstream schools and fails to appreciate or acknowledge the important role that AP plays in our educational system
  • The proposed model also fails to consider why there are increased behavioural issues in mainstream schools.
  • There is little reference to the well-being and mental health support that is an essential part of the offer that AP can make to students.   The proposals focus on poor behaviour. 
  • AP will become more like drop in provision with time-limited placements for many students
  • This approach could mean that staff are employed on short term contracts
  • Many young people need the support offered by specialist staff in AP and may remain at risk of exclusion in mainstream without this support.
  • Funding – we welcome the recognition that the place-led funding approach in AP has been shown to be unworkable.  However, there is no detail about how an alternative might work.   The only reference says that it will be ‘less of a financial risk for MATs’
  • Academisation - There is no evidence that requiring special schools or AP to join MATs will improve pupil outcomes or resolve issues of staff retention and expertise. There is a risk that structural change at this time and forcing structure change is not value for money and will distract local authorities from SEND/AP planning. It could also undermine LA statutory duties for students with SEND in the long term and for planning the range of appropriate provision; and we think the Government is wilfully ignoring this risk. The NEU has evidence for the case against.

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