Natspec submitted its response to the consultation on the SEND and AP Green Paper this morning – at about the same time as Will Quince submitted his resignation as Children and Families Minister! We have dutifully answered most of the questions asked by government in its online survey. But that gave us so little opportunity to suggest improvements to the system for 16-25-year-olds that we have sent in an additional paper focused on young people and further education and specialist college provision, in particular.
We have done the analysis that government should have done for itself of what is going wrong at the latter end of the 0-25 system, identified the underlying causes and proposed changes to improve the experiences and outcomes for young people, particularly those with more complex needs. We have called for much better strategic planning of post-16 and post-19 provision by local authorities, fairer access to specialist college places with far less reliance on tribunals, and more transition support for young people and families. We have also flagged the need for more joint commissioning across health, social care and education and for investment in post-college support services, including for employment, and in suitable accommodation for young disabled people.
Critically, we have emphasised the need for much greater accountability to ensure that legal duties are met and statutory guidelines followed. We suggest this is the root cause of many of the problems in the current system and not flaws in existing legislation or the Code of Practice. Failure to secure a much more robust approach to accountability will only result in any new system floundering in much the same way.
We would urge anyone with an interest in SEND in FE to respond to the consultation which closes on 22 July. You are most welcome to reiterate any of the points that we have made or to ‘borrow’ any text from our response. We need to work together to ensure that young people and their further education are not overlooked in the government’s reform agenda and that solutions designed for children and schools are not inappropriately foisted upon us.
We can only keep our fingers crossed that today’s unexpected turbulence in the Department for Education does not result in further delays in reforming the beleaguered SEND system.
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