The department has today published “Good intentions, good enough?”, an independent report into the experiences and outcomes of children and young people in residential special schools and colleges.

In December 2016, ministers commissioned Dame Christine Lenehan to lead an independent review into these schools and colleges. Dame Christine, a social worker by background, asked Mark Geraghty, chief executive of the Seashell Trust, which runs an outstanding residential special school and college, to co-chair the review.

The review, informed by a call for evidence and fieldwork visits to schools, colleges, local authorities and other services, found that:

  • Some children and young people in specialist residential placements can have negative experiences earlier in their education prior to seeking residential placements
  • Some LAs are reluctant to use residential provision, even when they lack a viable alternative placement. This is partly because it can be more expensive, but also because some are hostile toward independent/non-maintained providers. As a result, families felt they had to fight to access these placements
  • While experiences in residential placements tend to be good, outcomes are sometimes not as good as they could be, with some providers prioritising wellbeing over educational progress

The report contains a series of recommendations for government and other agencies, focusing on:

  • ensuring children and young people with SEND get the services and support they need in their local community (in mainstream or special provision)
  • ensuring that local areas have planned and commissioned provision strategically, so that it is available when required
  • ensuring the accountability and school improvement systems enable schools and colleges to achieve the best possible outcomes

In her letter of response to the review, the Secretary of State welcomed its findings, and committed to publishing a full response to its recommendations in Spring 2018. In the interim, to demonstrate the department’s commitment to the findings of the review, she announced that:

  • As recommended by the review, the department will establish a national leadership board for children and young people with high needs
  • As recommended by the review, the department is publishing updated visiting guidance for local areas (see below for more information)
  • To help schools and colleges support children and young people with SEND, the department is announcing the publication of a new interactive ‘what works’ resource for those working with these children and young people (see below for more information).

Details on the Institute of Teaching which have been launched by the Secretary of State for Education

The SEND Implementation team published the following information today, 26th October 2017:

SEND - single route of redress national trial

Guides for Head teachers and parent/carers on exclusions

Rochford Review recommendations

Pre-key stage standards review

Pilot of the 7 aspects of engagment for cognition and learning

OfSTED and CQC inspections

Information from the Transforming Care programme

Today, 6 October 2017, the DfE SEN Implementation Team have released the following announcement:


Rochford Review recommendations: appeal to schools to trial new assessments for pupils below the standard of national curriculum tests

The government’s response to the Rochford Review consultation was published on 14 September.  It set out plans for two important changes for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests:

  • For pupils engaged in subject-specific learning, it accepts the Review’s recommendation that the interim pre-key stage standards are made permanent and extended to cover all of these pupils.  To give schools adequate time to prepare for these changes, this will take effect from the 2018/19 academic year onwards, with the full suite of pre-key stage standards being published in the 2017/18 spring term.
  • For pupils not yet engaged in subject-specific learning, a pilot of the review’s recommended approach to assessing these pupils using the 7 areas of engagement for cognition and learning will be run in the 2017/18 academic year, before taking any final decisions on whether to implement this approach on a statutory basis.

The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) will be working with schools to run two projects to prepare for these changes:

1.  Pre-key stage standard review:

The pre-key stage standards will be reviewed, working with teachers and other educational experts, to ensure that they are fit for purpose.  This review will follow a thorough process, including: an evaluation by practising teachers, head teachers and local authority representatives; an expert review to act on feedback; and trialling of the final versions.  We plan to publish the full suite of pre-key stage standards in spring 2018, for first use by schools in the 2018/19 academic year.

Schools are needed to take part in:

  • An evaluation in autumn term 2017
  • Trialling in spring term 2018

2.  Pilot of the 7 areas of engagement for cognition and learning

The pilot will run this academic year, ending in summer 2018, involving approximately 50 schools assessing their pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning against the 7 areas of engagement for cognition and learning.  This work will be school-led, with flexibility to develop bespoke approaches based on the 7 areas of engagement that are tailored to the needs of their cohort.  However, participating schools will receive support and guidance, including through 8 regional teaching school hubs, to implement their approach and share practice with others.  An external research body will be conducting an evaluation of the pilot before any final decisions on whether to implement this approach are made.

Schools are needed to take part in the pilot, which will run from approximately October half term until the end of the summer term.  The project will involve using the 7 areas of engagement throughout, and include initial set-up meetings, a mid-point feedback session in the spring term, and an end-point feedback session in the summer term.

Schools wanting to get involved

If a school would like to volunteer to take part in either of these pilots, or request further information, please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Please provide the following information:

  • The name of your school
  • A named contact in your school
  • An approximate number of your pupils that are working below the standard of national curriculum tests, and any relevant information about their school demographics.

For any related events run by the STA, attendees will be reimbursed standard class travel expenses in full and overnight accommodation costs, and teachers’ supply cover will also be paid.

Changes to improve access to apprenticeships for people with a learning difficulty and / or disability

We are pleased to announce that we have made changes to the regular minimum English and maths requirements needed to complete an apprenticeship for people with a learning difficulty or disability who have, or previously had, an Education, Health and Care plan, a Statement of Special Educational Needs or a Learning Difficulty Assessment.  These changes will allow more people to access apprenticeships. A pdf guidance document explaining the chainges is avaiable.

These changes have been made as part of our work to implement the recommendations of the 2016 taskforce led by Paul Maynard to improve access to apprenticeships for people with a learning difficulty and / or disability. Please see the pdf Maynard Taskforce Update ).

Please do share details of the changes we have made to the English and maths requirements across your network so that as many people as possible can benefit (please see attachment English and Maths apprenticeship changes Sept 2017).

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact the National Apprenticeship Service on 0800 015 0400. If you are a training provider, you should contact the Business Operations Service Centre on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

School Admissions Briefing

The Council for Disabled Children has published a School Admissions Briefing, with information intended to help parents of disabled children and young people, parents of children and young people with SEN and professionals advising parents including those in Information, Advice and Support Services.

The briefing provides a summary of schools admission arrangements and focuses on issues that are particularly relevant to the admission of disabled children and children with SEN

SENCO Forum e-discussion group

We are asking local authorities to bring the National SENCO Forum to the attention of schools, settings and SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators).  The Forum, now in its twenty first year of operation, provides an opportunity for SENCOs and other SEN professionals to discuss issues and share information and practical advice.  The Forum offers independent, solution-based support in a collaborative and mutual way to both new to role and
experienced SENCOs. Advice provided is based on the direct experience of SEN professionals, relevant research evidence and national/local policy guidance.

More information about the Forum and joining instructions can be found at: 

Questions about using the Forum to disseminate information about SEN focused research, policy and practice can be addressed to the SENCo Forum Advisory Group Chair, Christopher Robertson at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Please also see available flyers for the  pdf Education and Training Foundation: Improving Outcomes for learners with SEND workshop and the  pdf NHS England Building Blocks for Change: Personalisation and Transforming Care workshop .

The Department for Education has published, on 14 September 2017, the government’s response to the ‘Primary assessment in England’ public consultation. Details are set out in a statement made to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening.

The response confirms the government’s intention to establish a settled, trusted primary assessment system for the long term, and specifically to:

  • move to a more flexible approach of assessing English writing from the 2017 to 2018 academic year onwards
  • change the starting point for primary school progress measures to the reception year  - with a new statutory assessment to be introduced in reception from 2020
  • remove statutory end of key stage 1 assessments once the reception baseline assessment has become fully established, from 2023
  • remove the duty for teachers to assess pupils against statutory reading and mathematics frameworks at the end of key stage 2 from the 2018 to 2019 academic year onwards
  • improve the early years foundation stage profile by clarifying the descriptors underpinning the Early Learning Goals and reviewing supporting guidance
  • introduce an online multiplication tables check to be taken by pupils at the end of year 4 from the 2019 to 2020 academic year

The government has also published today its response to the parallel consultation on the recommendations of the Rochford Review of assessment arrangements for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests.

We are very grateful to everyone who took the time to respond to these consultations.

If you have any queries, please contact the assessment policy team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or the Rochford Review team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The DfE have today (13 September 2017) published the September 2017 edition of their SEND Newsletter

Also sent out this month is a letter from Robert Goodwill MP (Minister of State for Children and Families) to Directors of Children's Services about the transition to the new system of special educational needa and disabilities.

The following documents are available:

The DfE have today published their latest figures on SEND:

The DfE SEND Newsletter for July 2017 is available in the document library:

Available document: