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Department for Education publishes latest forum SEND survey

Thursday 14th September 2017

The Department for Education (DfE) has published its latest newsletter, including the headline figures from the Spring 2017 special educational needs and disability (SEND) implementation survey of local authorities and parent carer forums on the SEND reforms.

The surveys are coordinated jointly by Contact, the National Network of Parent Carer Forums, NHS England and the DfE. They help assess progress with the SEN reforms and help the government to identify what's working well and where additional resources are needed to meet the challenges involved in introducing the new system.

With about seven months to go until the implementation of the reforms is complete, there is a very mixed picture of progress towards this deadline:

  • 114, or 75% parent carer forums responded to the survey.
  • 64% of forums who completed the survey are now largely or fully engaged in strategic planning with their local authority.
  • 44% of forums are confident that their local authority is meeting the 20-week deadline for producing at least 90% of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

Of the 90% of local authorities that completed the survey:

  • 39% are issuing at least 90% of EHC plans within 20 weeks.
  • The main barriers to meeting timeframes are team capacity, the time it takes for authorities to get advice from health professionals and named schools, and the capacity of educational psychologists to give advice.
  • 20% said that children are fully or largely engaged in strategic planning of SEN services, 40% said that young people are fully or largely engaged, and 84% said that parents are fully or largely engaged.

Contact's view and education advice

We are aware from speaking to parents on the helpline that there have been long delays in many local authorities with the transfer process. We are still speaking to families where the process has not yet started and who worry whether their child's support will be taken away next year.

While we hope that local authorities will comply with their duties to transfer all statements by the deadline, we welcome the announcement by the DfE that children who are still waiting for the transfer process to be completed after 31 March will not lose their legal right to support.  

Visit our education pages if you're looking for advice on getting support for your child in school, college or early years settings. You can also call our free helpline to talk through your concerns with one of our education advisers.

More information about the survey

Refer to the parent carer forum summary report for the full findings on the national picture of SEND reforms implementation from the perspective of parent carer forums in relation to participation and engagement; early years; schools and academies; colleges; SEN support; preparation for adulthood; the local offer; joint commissioning; the transforming care agenda; young offenders in custody; good practice, challenges and barriers in meeting the 20-week EHC plan deadline.

For the headline findings from the local authority survey, download the DfE newsletter and letter from Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State for Children and Families to Directors of Children's Services.