Changes for Ofsted inspection for SEND

Article source: The Adopt South West Co-Production Group

Responding to parent feedback changes to Ofsted’s inspection principles, newly published inspection framework is to be rolled out in early 2023 for inspecting local area arrangements for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

Key headline evaluation statements by the inspectorate:

  1. Children and young people receive the right help and support at the right time
  2. Children, young people and their families participate in decision-making about their individual plans and support
  3. Children and young people’s needs are identified accurately and assessed in a timely and effective way
  4. Children and young people are well prepared for their next steps and achieve strong outcomes
  5. Children and young people with SEND are valued, visible and included in their communities
  6. Leaders are ambitious for children and young people with SEND
  7. Leaders actively engage and work with children, young people and families
  8. Leaders have an accurate, shared understanding of the needs of children and young people in their local area
  9. Leaders commission services and provision to meet the needs and aspirations of children and young people
  10. Leaders evaluate services and make improvements
  11. Leaders create an environment for effective practice and multi-agency working to flourish

Kathryn Rudd OBE from Ofsted said:

“The system for children with special educational needs and disabilities has struggled with persistent and long-standing weaknesses for too long. Poor quality education, health and care plans, poor co-production and poor outcomes for pupils with SEND are rife. To compound these issues even further, the pandemic has had a particularly detrimental impact on the education and support for children and young people with SEND. The need for improvement across the board is clear.”

“Our new area SEND inspection framework follows a period of consultation alongside the Care Quality Commission (CQC). I hope this will act as a catalyst for much-needed improvement, while helping local areas prepare for future reform. Our inspections will focus on the things that matter most – improving the experiences and outcomes of children and young people with SEND. The new framework will strengthen accountability and clarify where responsibility for improvement lies.”

“When we were developing our new framework, we worked closely with stakeholders, such as sector professionals and parents and carers, to develop criteria for evaluating the impact local areas have on the outcomes and experiences of children and young people with SEND”.

What does this mean to us?

  1. The introduction of a more frequent and continuous cycle of inspections. This includes reinspecting earlier, where necessary, and monitoring inspections for local areas where a full inspection finds significant failings.
  2. Introducing three distinct inspection outcomes to provide clearer information about how a local area partnership is performing.
  3. Reports will make it clear where responsibility lies for any action that needs to be taken. Ofsted will also ask all areas to publish their SEND strategic plans after a full inspection.
  4. A focus on how local authorities commission and oversee alternative provision.
  5. The introduction of a multidisciplinary inspection team comprised of education, health and social care inspectors.
  6. As part of the new inspection arrangements, Ofsted will also carry out an annual series of thematic visits. These will look in depth at specific aspects of the SEND system. Ofsted’s first set of visits will focus on alternative provision to understand how it is used for children with SEND, and to promote improvement by sharing examples of good partnership working.
  7. Specialist provision will always have an important role to play in the system, but we must also improve inclusion in mainstream education.
  8. The quality of training must be strengthened to better equip teachers to provide a high-quality curriculum and teaching to children and young people with SEND.

Kathryn Rudd OBE Ofsted continues:

“We know that large-scale reform of this kind can take years to implement. But, given the urgent need for change, we felt that it would not be right to wait until these reforms are put into action. So, we have introduced our new framework while they are being developed, to ensure there is no accountability gap. I hope it will act as a catalyst for further change and help foster effective partnership working that places the experiences of children and young people with SEND at its centre.”

New framework and handbook

This framework and handbook document sets out Ofsted’s inspection principles, guidance and the main judgements that inspectors make when inspecting area SEND. It sets out the framework and handbook for inspecting local area arrangements for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). It was devised jointly by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for use from 2023 and will be periodically reviewed and amended.

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