Ofsted unveils plans for new area SEND inspection framework


Ofsted is planning to develop a new area SEND inspection framework, in partnership with the Care Quality Commission, to enhance how inspections are carried out.

Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman has admitted that limitations exist within the current system and that a new framework is planned to launch once the existing cycle of inspections is complete.

She explained that the one-off nature of inspections can encourage short-term actions that do not address any long-term underlying issues.

“We have focused too much on the implementation of the government’s 2014 SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) reforms and too little on the quality and impact of provision on children and young people’s lives,” she said.

What the new area SEND framework might include

A continuous cycle of inspections is expected to form the basis of the new framework, with a key focus on the experiences of children with SEND and those of their families.

Ofsted has published an evaluation of the framework, which looks into how effective local areas are in both identifying the needs of young people with SEND, and of meeting those needs accordingly.

It outlines how including case tracking and thematic deep dives within the new set up will provide greater insight into the lives and everyday challenges faced by children with SEND.

Future inspections will also put more of an emphasis on the “quality, integration and commissioning of education, health and care services” for those with SEND.

Resumption of joint SEND inspections delayed

Ofsted has also said that the resumption of joint SEND inspections, where they conduct inspections of local authority SEND provision with support of the Care Quality Commission, will not happen in the autumn term.

Instead, the inspectorate and the CQC will visit council areas to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in those regions and will provide guidance on how local authorities can best respond.

Like regular school inspections, joint SEND inspections were suspended as a result of the pandemic.

Ms Spielman explained that disruption to services as a result of the pandemic means it is “impossible for us and CQC to make fair, valid and consistent inspection judgements”.

“We, therefore, think it is right that we do not return to area SEND inspections in the autumn, but instead focus on other ways we can help and support local areas to strengthen the SEND system in future,” she added.

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