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An update on Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) inspections

9 July 2020

Since 2016, CQC and Ofsted have conducted joint inspections to see how well local areas fulfil their responsibilities for children and young people with special educational needs (SEND) and/or disabilities.

To make sure children and young people are receiving the support that they need, these joint inspections look at how well education, social care and health services work together to identify those children and young people who have SEND and/or a disability – and how well they assess and meet their needs.

During the coronavirus pandemic these inspections have been suspended, however it is vital that these children and young people, whose wellbeing and care may have also been significantly affected by the disruption to services caused by the outbreak, continue to receive support.

This is why CQC and Ofsted will work collaboratively with local areas through a series of interim visits, beginning in the autumn, to:

  • understand children and young people’s experience and learn from what has worked well for them in this time
  • support local areas to prioritise and meet the needs of children and young people with SEND in the context of the pandemic
  • enable learning for all local areas, government and stakeholders on how best to rebuild a better SEND system in future through a series of national reports.

These visits will give an insight into how well the system is working, support local areas to meet the needs of children and young people at this difficult time, and allow us to share the good practice that we see.

Future local area SEND inspections

CQC and Ofsted have also been commissioned by the Department for Education, with the support of the Department of Health and Social Care, to develop a new area SEND inspection framework to launch after the existing inspection cycle has finished.

Learning from the newly published assessment of the current approach, this will include a greater focus on the experience of children and young people with SEND, and their families, and give more prominence to the quality integration and commissioning of education, health and care services.

Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care at the Care Quality Commission said:

“Now more than ever when services are likely to be disrupted by COVID-19, it is vital that we do not lose sight of the importance of making sure children and young people with special educational needs get the integrated support that they need.

“While inspection activity has been suspended, we need to support local areas to fulfil their responsibilities for children and young people with SEND, and their families.

“As a responsive regulator, we also need to make sure that we continue to learn and adapt our approach so that we can make sure people get the high quality, safe care that they deserve. We will be working with Ofsted to develop the new inspection framework for future SEND inspections and making sure that the voices and experience of children and young people with SEND, and their families, are at the heart of this.”

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted Chief Inspector said:

“There is no doubt that children and young people with SEND and their families have been affected significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many hard-working professionals and organisations have responded admirably by finding innovative ways to support children and families, we must not lose sight of the wide-ranging disruption to essential support and services still faced by many.

Our joint visits to local areas with CQC will be collaborative and supportive, designed to support the whole SEND system. I am also very pleased that Ofsted and CQC have been commissioned by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families to develop a new, ongoing area SEND inspection framework. This will continue to drive lasting and vital improvement in the whole SEND system.

Last updated:
09 July 2020