Bedford Borough Council is taking part in an initiative to improve the outcomes and experiences for children and young people with SEND, a meeting heard.
The Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee (October 30) heard that since 2019, the Department for Education (DfE) has been reviewing the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) System nationally.
And in September the DfE launched the SEND & AP Change Programme to test policies and reforms over the next 18 to 24 months.
Chris Morris, chief officer for education, SEND and schools infrastructure, said: “[So] to try and improve what is undoubtedly a broken system nationally, for various different reasons, around SEND.”
Mr Morris added that taking part in the Programme, which is funded by a grant from the DfE, is a “good opportunity” for the council to work in “innovative” ways to support parents/carers and children.
Committee chair, councillor James Valentine (Labour, Kempston West) said: “Chris you have emphasised that this research will have no negative impact locally, and you’ve said that several times.
“But can you be equally definite about a positive impact?
“That it will add value to what we’re doing, and in other words, we’re not just doing stuff for the DfE, we’re actually benefiting children and carers locally,” he asked.
Mr Morris replied: “In terms of my role as chief officer for education send and school infrastructure everything that I am doing is to try and improve the outcomes for children and young people with SEND.
“And therefore any activity that we are undertaking its core purpose is to try and improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND.”
“So, can I guarantee that it will definitely have a positive impact on children and young people with SEND, no, I cannot.
“But can I guarantee that my intention and everything that we’ll be doing is to have a positive impact on children, yes I can.
“So that’s the challenge around [the programme], the [parent/carer/children] rights, the legislation, the duties are still incumbent on us as they always would be, whether we accepted this grant or not.
“But this grant does give us an opportunity, with resources in a place where there is scant resource, to deliver approaches that we would not otherwise have had an opportunity to do,” he said.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter