In March 2017 the government published the “Review of arrangements for disagreement resolution (SEND)” a copy of which can be found here: SEND Review.
Despite the clunky title, this report is a useful and indepth study of how the various methods of dispute resolution contemplated by the scheme of SEN provision created by the Children and Families Act 2014 are actually working.
The overall aim of the research was:
- To assess how well new and existing routes for redress were working for children, young people and their families.
This overall aim was broken down into two more specific research aims:
- To gather evidence, including on any cost savings, to inform a review of arrangements for disagreement resolution required by the Children and Families Act 2014
- To understand the effect of the pilot to extend the powers of the First-tier Tribunal SEND to make non-binding recommendations about health and social care aspects of EHC plans, including cost implications.
The study had six objectives. These were:
- To examine whether the process of education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment and plan development introduced under the Children and Families Act 2014 was successful in resolving and preventing disagreements at an early stage (research questions associated with this objective included perspectives on the experience of appealing to the First tier Tribunal SEND).
- To examine whether disagreement resolution services (DRS) and information, advice and support services (IASS) were helping to resolve issues at an early stage and so contributing to a reduction in appeals to the Tribunal.
- To examine how successful mediation was in resolving issues without need for recourse to the Tribunal.
- To examine whether health and social care complaints arrangements were working for children and young people with SEND and their parents, taking into account other reviews, such as the Francis inquiry (February 2013) and the Clwyd Review (October 2013). (The research also included education complaints arrangements.)
- To understand the effect of the pilot to extend the powers of the First-tier Tribunal SEND (‘the Recommendations pilot’), including cost implications.
- To assess the cost savings of early (pre-Tribunal) disagreement resolution.
On 29th March 2017, the government published its response, a copy of which can be found here: SEND Review Government Response.
Both documents are interesting for the light they shed on the actual workings of the system of SEN provision. Although the way it is supposed to work can be gleaned from statute, statutory regulations and Code of Practice, evidence of practice in the real world is essential both for making intelligent use of the current system and contemplating how it might need to be improved or reformed.