The Government recognises the importance of accessing timely and effective support to improve the experiences of children and young people with SEND, and their families.
Nationally, 17 per cent of pupils are identified with some form of SEN, three quarters of whom receive SEN support from their mainstream school, funded from its own resources. Local authorities must ensure there are sufficient good school places for all pupils, including special schools and those with SEND. They are statutorily required to keep the services and provision for children and young people with SEND under review (including its sufficiency), working with parents, young people, and providers.
To go further in supporting local authorities to meet this duty, the Government published its SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan in March 2023. This plan included a commitment to invest £2.6 billion between 2022 and 2025 to fund new special and AP places and improve existing provision for children and young people with SEND, including announcing 41 new special free schools. This funding represents a significant, transformational investment in new high needs provision.
The Government has also collected new data from local authorities on available capacity in special schools, SEND units and resourced provision, along with corresponding forecasts of demand for these places. This data will help the department to more effectively support local authorities to fulfil their statutory duty to provide sufficient specialist places.
Through these reforms, the department aim to ensure that placements for children and young people with SEND are sufficient to meet need, allowing them to access the right support, in the right setting, at the right time.