The SEND and AP Improvement Plan

4 mins read

This advice applies to England only.

The government published its plans to reform the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision (AP) system in England in March 2023. On this page we answer some frequently asked questions about the government’s proposals.

In this article

What is the SEND and AP Improvement Plan?

The SEND and AP Improvement Plan: Right Support, Right Place, Right Time sets out the government’s plans to make changes to the SEND and AP system in England. The SEND and AP system refers to the extra support in education to help children with SEND.

The government has written the plan in response to the SEND and AP Green Paper consultation. This invited feedback to an initial set of proposed changes.

Will the improvement plan change current SEND Law?

No, the Improvement Plan contains no proposals to change the law.

The current SEND legal framework, set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014, will still apply.

That means local authorities must follow the current law, the SEND Tribunal will continue to apply it, and parents and carers’ rights will remain the same.

What does the improvement plan propose?

The Improvement Plan is a long document with lots of proposals. Here are a few we think are the most significant:

What will the new system of National Standards do?

According to the government, these standards will clarify:

These are all things which are explained within the existing SEN legal framework. The government thinks that by introducing these standards, the current postcode lottery of SEN provision will end.

We are concerned, however, that the current legal framework is robust, but too often local authorities don’t comply with it and are not held to account for non-compliance.

How will the government introduce the new National Standards?

The government will introduce a Change Programme.

Under this, Regional Expert Partnerships will test various planned changes to the SEND system in up to nine selected local authorities across the country to see if they are successful

When will the government introduce the new National Standards?

The timeline for the National Standards is as follows:

How will I know if I am in one of the nine test areas?

The government will inform you if it’s selected your local authority to be part of a Regional Expert Partnership. If you do live in one of these test areas, you will be able to choose whether you want to take part in the test of the new standards.

Will my child or young person’s rights change if I live in a test area?

No. Regardless of whether a local authority is part of a Regional Expert Partnership, it will still have to follow the current law.

The SEND tribunal will remain accessible for parents and guided by current law.

Support in education

Introduction to special educational needs (SEN)

Support in the early years

Extra support in school

Education beyond 16

The SEND and AP Improvement Plan