Guest blog post: David Bartram on the changing landscape in SEND

There is now a large amount of guidance and advice for schools on how to implement the reforms and it can be difficult for school leaders to prioritise where to start.

The following five points will be useful for schools, and other professionals who work with schools, to consider as they prepare for the changing landscape in SEND.

1. Identification

The definition of SEND has not changed. The Children & Families Act 2014 s.20 defines a child or young person as having a special educational need when they have either a learning difficulty or disability and they need special educational provision (SEP) to be made for them that is additional to, or different from that made generally for others of the same age in mainstream schools.


  • Review the school’s current SEN register and provision.
  • Ensure that all children on the register are receiving support that is additional to or different from others nationally in mainstream schools.

David Bartram, SEN Director at the London Leadership Strategy

2. One single category for SEN

School Action and School Action Plus have now been removed and replaced with ‘SEN Support.’ It is up to the school how it organises this support, but the draft Code recommends a graduated approach and a cycle of action that includes assess, plan, do, review.


  • Review the school’s current support and interventions.
  • Identify if there is a graduated approach to support.
  • Look at whether interventions follow the cycle of assess, plan, do, review.

3. Targets and individual plans for students with SEN

There is no mention of IEPs (Individual Education Plans) within the draft Code of Practice. There is now more flexibility for schools to record support, outcomes and progress in a way that they think would most benefit students.

Progress must be reviewed at least termly with the class teacher and parents, with support from the SENCO.


  • Review your current format for record-keeping and individual plans for students with SEN.
  • Share the outcomes of support with parents at least termly.

4. The Local Offer and the SEN Information Report

There is now a duty on Local Authorities to identify, collate and disseminate information about locally available provision which can be accessed, through a clear website, by all stakeholders.

Schools must publish an SEN information report which is likely to include details of expertise available, the school’s approach to SEN, how it accesses outside agency support and admission arrangements for children with SEN.


  • Plan the development of a SEN information report for September 2014.
  • Take the opportunity to review the balance of your provision.

5. Leadership of SEN

The draft Code of Practice places responsibility for SEN in the hands of class teachers (Draft CoP 6.5). The SENCO should provide strategic guidance for staff, provide accurate identification of SEND and deliver precise interventions in partnership with mainstream teachers.


  • Ensure governing bodies or trustees are aware of their legal duties.
  • Provide training for staff on the Code of Practice and ensure they are aware of their responsibilities for students with SEN.
  • Ensure SENCOs work strategically, alongside teachers and departments to improve outcomes for students with SEN.

It is important that the new legislation does not sit in its own ‘bubble’ away from wider education debate and government policy.

The Government’s current drive is towards a school-led self-improving system, which is supported by National Teaching Schools and National and Specialist Leaders of Education.

Yet it appears that almost every type of organisation has been given responsibility for advising on the implementation of the reforms except for schools. If the reforms are to be a success, then schools must be placed at the heart of the implementation process.

David Bartram is SEN Director at the London Leadership Strategy – a not for profit organisation run by experienced Headteachers to empower schools to take forward school-to-school improvement in London and beyond.

The London Leadership Strategy is hosting The Future of SEN Conference in London on the 10th June. Speakers include Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families, Jean Gross CBE and Charlie Henry HMI, National Lead for Disability and Special Educational Needs.

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Many thanks to David Bartram for writing this blog post.