Closed petition Make SEND training mandatory for all teaching staff

Before the launch of the Institute of Teaching and the publication of the SEND Review, the Government must commit to making knowledge of SEND essential for all teaching staff. This should be reflected in ITT CCF, the ECF and all NPQs.

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Failing to require SEND training could result in more children with SEND excluded from education, hindering their preparation for adulthood.

There are over 400,000 children and young people in England with an educational health care plan (ECHP) and over 1,000,000 requiring SEN support.

The SEND Code of Practice (2014) states, ‘Special educational provision is underpinned by high quality teaching and is compromised by anything less.’ Teaching staff and leaders must be equipped with condition specific knowledge in order to meet the individual needs of their learners, thereby, improving their personal and academic outcomes.

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Government responded

This response was given on 9 March 2022

To achieve Qualified Teacher Status, all teachers must already demonstrate that they have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs.

Read the response in full

The quality of teaching is key to ensuring that pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are given the best possible opportunity to achieve at school.

In support of this aim we are already implementing a range of reforms to teacher training, whilst also supporting school leaders in their duty to ensure their provision meets the special educational needs of children and young people.

Reforms to teacher training

All teachers are teachers of SEND and we are committed to ensuring that all children and young people receive high quality teaching. The revised Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework (CCF) – which all new entrants to the profession benefit from – has been designed around how to support all pupils to succeed, including those pupils identified within the four areas of need set out in the SEND code of practice.

In addition to the mandated minimum set out in the ITT CCF, we expect ITT providers and their partners to continue to tailor their curricula to the needs of their trainees and the children in the schools where they train and will work. ITT courses must be designed so that trainee teachers can demonstrate that they meet the Teachers’ Standards at the appropriate level (including the requirement in Standard 5, that all teachers must have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with SEND).

The ‘golden thread’ of evidence-informed training, support and professional development, which begins with ITT and continues into early career teaching, through to the reformed suite of leadership and specialist NPQs, ensures that teachers have the skills to support all pupils to succeed, including those with SEND. All teachers and leaders employed in state-funded schools and state-funded organisations that offer 16-19 places in England have been able to access scholarships to undertake fully-funded NPQs since autumn 2021. Funding will continue at this level to the end of this parliament.

Consideration of SEND underpins both the Core Content Framework and Early Career Framework (ECF) which were both produced with the support of sector experts.

The ECF has been designed around how to support all pupils to succeed and seeks to widen access for all. This includes those pupils identified within the four areas of need set out in the SEND code of practice, and children in need of help and protection as identified in the Children in Need Review.

Further support for the workforce

Once teachers qualify and are employed in schools, headteachers use their professional judgement to identify any further training, including specific specialisms, for individual staff that is relevant to them, the school and its pupils.

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) play an essential role in schools, supporting teaching staff to meet the needs of pupils with SEN and ensuring that schools have a clear and effective approach to inclusive education. Every maintained nursery, maintained mainstream school and mainstream academy must have a qualified teacher designated as SENCO.

The Department also recognises that schools may need further support in ensuring the workforce is confident in meeting the needs of all pupils. That is why, since 2018, we have funded a programme of work to develop the skills and expertise of the school workforce in relation to SEND. Through our contract with the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen), we have funded the Whole School SEND consortium to equip school staff to deliver high quality teaching to all children and young people with SEND. In 2021-22 we are providing £2 million funding, which will bring the total for this contract to over £8 million since 2018.
We have also funded the Autism Education Trust since 2011 to deliver autism awareness training to education staff in early years, schools and further education settings. It has so far reached more than 305,000 people and has developed good autism practice guidance and practice frameworks aimed at supporting and improving practice within education settings.
In February 2022, we announced more than £45 million of continued targeted support for families and parents of children with SEND. This includes funding for programmes that will directly support schools and colleges to effectively work with pupils with SEND, for example through training on specific needs like autism.

Department for Education

Share your views on Government's plans to improve support for children and young people with SEND

The Government has launched a public consultation on major changes it wants to make to the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision (AP) system in England.

It wants to hear from:
- Children and young people
- Parents and carers
- People who work in the SEND sector
- Local and national system leaders

Find out more about the consultation and share your views:

You can respond until 11.45pm on Friday 1 July 2022.

What changes is the Government planning to make?

The Government says that it plans to create a "single, national SEND and alternative provision (AP) system that will introduce new standards in the quality of support give to children across education, health and care".

The proposed changes include:

- Improving workforce training through the introduction of a new SENCo (Special Education Needs Coordinator) NPQ for school SENCos
- Increasing the number of staff with level 3 qualifications in early years settings
- A new legal requirement for councils to introduce 'local inclusion plans' that set out responsibility for young people with SEND among local services

The Government has announced additional funding to implement these proposals.

Find out more about the changes the Government is proposing:

Read a summary of the Government's SEND review:

MPs questions Secretary of State for Education about the review

On Tuesday 29 March, the Government Minister responsible for education, Nadhim Zahawi MP, made a statement to the House of Commons about the review and consultation, and was questioned about this by MPs.

Read what he said and questions from MPs:

Get involved in the work of the UK Parliament

Sign up to the Your UK Parliament newsletter for the latest information on how to get involved and make a difference:

MPs discuss SEND and alternative provision improvement plan

On Monday 6 March the Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, Claire Coutinho MP, made a statement in the House of Commons about the Government's new Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan.

The Minister updated MPs on the Government's progress to improve outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities or alternative provision in England.

She said the Government will:

  • Develop new national special educational needs and disabilities and alternative provision standards to set out what support should be available.
  • Establish local SEND and AP partnerships.
  • Train thousands more early years special educational needs co-ordinators and 400 more educational psychologists.
  • Invest £2.6 billion by 2025 in new special and alternative provision places, and improve provision.
  • Publish guidance on ensuring effective transitions between all stages of education, and an effective transition into employment and adult services.
  • Invest in supported internships.
  • Expand school and college mental health support teams.

Following the statement the Minister was questioned by MPs.

What are Ministerial statements?

Ministerial statements are a way for Ministers to bring an important matter to the attention of the House.

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Share your experiences: SEND workforce

On Wednesday 22 March, Geraint Davies MP will lead a debate in Parliament on the specialist workforce for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

To inform the debate, he would like to hear about your experiences of accessing SEND specialists. He would also like to hear from anyone who has worked with people with SEND. He may quote your contribution directly during his debate.

Find out more and share your experiences with him by midday on Tuesday 21 March:

Education and health policy are devolved matters, so the UK Government is only responsible for these policy areas in England, but he is interested in hearing from people across the UK.

Videos of the debate, the transcript of what was said in it, and other relevant material will be accessible shortly after the debate on this webpage.

What are Westminster Hall debates?

Westminster Hall is the second Chamber of the House of Commons.

Westminster Hall debates give MPs an opportunity to raise local or national issues and receive a response from a government minister. Any MP can take part in a Westminster Hall debate.

Debates in Westminster Hall take place on ‘general debate' motions expressed in neutral terms. These motions are worded ‘That this House has considered [a specific matter]'. This means that Westminster debates don’t end in a vote on a particular action or decision.

MPs hear from disabled people on National Disability Strategy

A cross-party group of MPs called the Women and Equalities Committee, has heard from disabled people and representative organisations on the Government’s National Disability Strategy.

The Government’s Strategy was declared unlawful by the High Court last year due to failures in the consultation process. As a result of the ruling, 14 policies have been paused. The Government is appealing the ruling, with the hearing likely to take place this Spring-Summer.

The Committee examined the Government’s engagement with disabled people and heard views on the Health and Disability White Paper, published alongside the Spring Budget, priorities for the Disability Action Plan and compliance with international obligations.

The Committee also explored policy for non-visible disabilities and health conditions, including chronic illness, mental health problems and deafness

Further information

What is the Women and Equalities Committee

The Women and Equalities Committee is a cross-party group of MPs who look into the work of the Government Equalities Office (GEO).

The Women and Equalities Committee is a select committee. Find out how select committees work.

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SEND provision and funding debated by MPs

On Thursday 11 January, Sir David Davis MP led a Backbench Business debate in Parliament on SEND provision and funding.

Along with other MPs, he spoke about the many people who have signed petitions on the issue.

He also quoted those who had shared their experiences to help inform previous debates on SEND provision and funding.

Watch or read the debate – and see the Government's response – on SEND provision and funding

What are Backbench Business debates?

Backbench Business debates give backbenchers (MPs who aren’t ministers or shadow ministers) an opportunity to secure a debate on a topic of their choice, either in the main House of Commons Chamber or Westminster Hall, the second chamber of the House of Commons.

MPs can make a request for a debate to the Backbench Business Committee, who hears requests and decides which debates to schedule.

Backbench debates can either be general debates (which do not end in a vote) or be on a substantive motion (which calls for an action and can end in a vote). This debate was a debate on a substantive motion.

Interactive explainer: Backbench Business debates

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