Parliament Committee Report details key concerns with Children and Families Bill

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Parliament Committee Report details key concerns with Children and Families Bill

View profile for Emma Thompson, nee Grimbly
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Wednesday marked a vital step forward in ensuring the needs of children with Special Educational Needs are met.

The first report published by the Education Committee on 23 October 2019, details key concerns regarding the implementation and funding of the 2014 reforms. (the reforms that introduced EHCPs and removed statements).

Below are just some of the recommendations/comments that we have focussed on:

“The reforms were ambitious: The Children and Families Bill sought to place young people at the heart of the system. However, as we set out in this report, that ambition remains to be realised. Let down by failures of implementation, the 2014 reforms have resulted in confusion and at times unlawful practice, bureaucratic nightmares, buck-passing and a lack of accountability, strained resources and adversarial experiences, and ultimately dashed the hopes of many”.

“Unless health, and social care are ‘at the table’, we are no further on, and the Education, Health and Care Plan is no more than a Statement by another name

“We are concerned that the Department has left it to local authorities, inspectorates, parents and the courts to operate and police the system. There is a clear need for the Department to be more proactive in its oversight of the way in which the system is operating. However, ultimately, local authorities must ensure that they are compliant with the law as opposed to waiting to be caught out by an inspection regime, parents or other professionals”. 

“The Government should introduce a reporting and accountability mechanism for non-compliance so that parents and schools can report directly to the Department for Education where local authorities appear not to be complying with the law. It should also implement an annual scorecard for local authorities and health bodies to measure their success against the SEND reforms including, but not limited to, reports of non-compliance; the school placement of children and young people with SEND, including those without a school place; Tribunal hearings, and how local authorities meet statutory timescales”.

“We recommend that the Department for Education strengthen the guidance in the Code of Practice on SEN Support to provide greater clarity over how children should be supported. The Department should also amend the guidance on Education Health and Care Needs Assessments and Plans to create a clearer and more standard interpretation of the process that should be followed for Education Health and Care Needs Assessments, with the aim of reducing paperwork and simplifying processes for all involved”. 

“We recommend that the Department for Education explores the potential for creating a neutral role, allocated to every parent or carer with a child when a request is made for a needs assessment, which has the responsibility for co-ordinating all statutory SEND processes including the annual review, similar to the role of the Independent Reviewing Officer for looked-after children”. 

To see the full report, click here.