In a new memorandum, the DfES has outlined three key principles that underpin its approach to improving SEN provision in England. The application of these principles is summarised in this article with reference to the Education and Skills Select Committee of Inquiry into SEN.

In a significant statement of its policy position on special educational needs provision in England, the government has published a comprehensive new paper.(1) The 63-page document is an important self-evaluation of SEN-related policy, practice and provision, but more importantly, it includes a robust response to criticisms made by politicians, parent groups, academics, and other interested parties in recent years.

Section 4 of the memorandum (‘Looking forward’) will be of particular interest to SEN professionals because it includes responses to a number of challenging questions and outlines a series of next steps to improve education for children and young people with special educational needs.

Key questions

Is a major review of special educational needs policy needed? Should there be a moratorium on special school closures?

Should we replace the system of assessments and statements?

The response to each of these questions is ‘No’. A detailed rationale for rejecting radical policy reform is outlined and a process of further improvement and refinement is advocated. The next phase of policy development focuses on bringing about change – some of which is already taking place – based on three key principles: personalisation, educational inclusion and partnership (see panel).

1. Education and Skills (Ref: SEN 178) was presented in support of oral evidence given to the Education and Skills Select Committee by Lord Adonis, parliamentary under secretary of state with responsibility for SEN. See UK Parliament website: Education and Skills Select Committee.