The SEND and alternative provision improvement plan: Four things you need to know

After a lengthy consultation period, the DfE published the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan on the 2nd March 2023, which sets out its plans to change the SEND and alternative provision system in England.

The plan builds on the SEND and alternative provision green paper which was published in March 2022 and details the feedback that was received, the improvements made as a result and proposals that will be tested and reviewed.

The plan is the first step in an ongoing process, but the overall vision of the plan is one of inclusivity:

‘Our ambition is to create a society that celebrates, encourages, and enables the success of all children and young people, including those with SEND or in alternative provision … A society where navigating systems and accessing support across education, health and care is dignified, involves children and young people in decision-making about their own support, and recognises the broad array of strengths held by children and young people with SEND or in alternative provision.’

These are the four key changes we think you need to know about:

1) National Standards: A set of evidence-based SEND and AP National standards will be established and published in 2025. These standards will improve provision for pupils receiving SEN support and reduce the need for EHC Plans or access to specialist provision. They will also help clarify who is responsible provision and which budgets should be used.

2) Funding: A new system of funding bands and tariffs will be created to make funding more consistent across the country. The notional SEND budget is also being discussed as part of the National Funding Formula consultation, and more information will be published later this year.

3) Training: A new leadership level SENCO NPQ (National Professional Qualification) will be introduced. The DfE will also fund up to 5,000 early years staff to gain an accredited Level 3 early years SENCo qualification, and there will be £21 million invested to train two more cohorts of educational psychologists in 2024 and 2025 in partnership with the NHS.

4) Paperwork: EHC Plans will be standardised from 2025 and use digital technology to make them easier to navigate. Local areas will also need to create evidence-based ‘local inclusion plans’ showing how needs will be met in line with the new National Standards, and local and national dashboards to improve transparency will be live from Autumn 2023.




Intervention and SEN, SEN, SENCO, SEND

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