Sharon Hodgson – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department for Education

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Sharon Hodgson on 2016-01-20.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of the Ofsted budget has been allocated for the purpose of carrying out local area inspections of provision for children with special educational needs and disability for each of the next three years.

Edward Timpson

Local authorities have made good progress complying with the statutory special educational needs duties in the Children and Families Act 2014 since they came into force in September 2014. We continue to monitor progress.

All local authorities have published a Local Offer of the services and support available to children and young people in their area with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Responsibility for publishing and maintaining Local Offers lies with each local authority. The Department supports local authorities to help make sure they meet all statutory requirements for their Local Offer, and that the quality of services continues to improve.

In summer 2014, the Department conducted a review of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans and plan templates from half of local authorities. The majority of the EHC plan templates we reviewed were judged likely to meet the requirements in the SEND Code of Practice. Where changes were needed, this was often due to inaccurate labelling of the required sections. Feedback was provided to individual local authorities alongside information to all local authorities about the key areas for focus. Since September 2014, EHC plans have been continually monitored. Where individual EHC plans are considered not to be fully compliant, advice on improvement is provided to the local authority.

Figures returned by local authorities and published in the Statements of SEN and EHC plans Statistical First Release[1] in May 2015 show that, of the 1,360 new EHC plans issued between 1 September 2014 and 15 January 2015, 64.3% were within the statutory 20 week time limit when excluding exception cases.

The Department for Education is providing specific additional funding to Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to support their inspection of the effectiveness of local areas in fulfilling their new SEND duties. We are in the process of setting individual budgets as part of our internal business planning process.

Ofsted and CQC conducted pilots as part of their wider consultation on their inspection proposals. These pilots explored different approaches to securing evidence in what is a complex area, involving a range of education, social care, and health providers at the local level. Ofsted and CQC will publish their response to the consultation on these new inspection arrangements in spring 2016. In addition, they will evaluate the impact of inspections, which will begin later in 2016.

The Department draws on a wide range of evidence to determine whether the SEND provisions of the Children and Families Act have improved outcomes for children. Our intention is that a combination of local accountability measures; data and analysis; and independent inspection will show how the SEND system is performing and whether outcomes are improving for children and young people.

The SEND inspections will evaluate local areas’ effectiveness in identifying and meeting the needs of children and young people. We will draw on a wide range of statistics[2], including information on educational attainment, absence and exclusions and research into families and young people’s experience of the new system.

A summary of the available data on SEN and disability is available at


[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/statements-of-sen-and-ehc-plans-england-2015

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-special-educational-needs-sen