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AoC response to SEND and alternative provision improvement plan

02 March 2023

Responding to the publication of DfE's SEND and alternative provision improvement plan, David Holloway, AoC Senior Policy Manager for SEND, said: “The new plan correctly identifies many of the barriers students face as they move through the education system. It is clear that colleges have been listened to. But it is equally clear that crucial detail is missing.

“Without the right detail, the plan will be a missed opportunity. So it is essential that government continues to work with the college sector to deliver the “single national system” which ministers promise.

“The plan acknowledges critical issues faced by college students with SEND – like the muddle around the status of specialist colleges and the lack of distinct funding for those who do not qualify for high-needs support. But the plan offers no solutions to these problems, nor even a timescale for review.

“On the vital question of students moving on from school to college, the plan recognises that late decision-making by local authorities prevents colleges from planning transition. But it is far from clear whether local inclusion dashboards and other devices proposed in the plan will really have the teeth to improve the ramshackle arrangements that young people are expected to navigate.

“Some issues, such as investment in college buildings for students with SEND, are not addressed at all. We accept the need for a ‘design and test’ approach to finalise the details of new mechanisms – but with some of these tests due to complete this year, there has to be a better focus on post-16 provision.

“It cannot be right to treat one phase of a young person’s education as more important that another. Today’s young people will soon become adults, so if poor decisions are made about SEND provision now, they will limit their life chances for decades to come.”

Notes to editors:

Read more from David Holloway in this AoC blog, which can be read here.

Read the DfE announcement here.