Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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Improving outcomes for children and young people with SEND

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) publish a report on the area SEND consultation and a new area SEND inspection framework.

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have today launched a new joint framework for inspecting provision for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) within a local area. Beginning in January 2023, inspections will focus on whether local area partnerships are delivering improved outcomes and experiences for children and young people with SEND.

See the new handbook and framework, the consultation outcome and the outcome of the separate children and young people’s consultation.

Ofsted has also published a commentary about the changes to the framework by the Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman.

The new framework will consider how local area partnerships are going beyond fulfilling their legal duties, to make a positive difference to the lives of children and young people with SEND – who were consulted on the proposals.

Inspections will now also evaluate how local authorities commission and oversee alternative provision, given the large number of children and young people with SEND in this kind of provision.

A new ongoing cycle of inspections will be introduced, with the aim of strengthening accountability across the local area partnership and supporting continuous improvement across the SEND system. There will also be a programme of monitoring inspections for areas with systemic or widespread weaknesses.

To support joint working across the sector, the inspection framework will apply a multi-disciplinary approach to gathering evidence, by deploying an inspection team that includes education, health and social care inspectors.

Any local areas inspected previously that were required to produce a Written Statement of Action (WSoA), and have not had a revisit by the end of 2022, will have a full inspection under the new framework within three years.

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman:

Every child deserves a good education and the opportunity to reach their full potential. But for too long outcomes for children with SEND have fallen short. It’s not right that families are often left to navigate a complex system to get the support their children need.

The need to address long-standing issues within the SEND system is more urgent than ever. Our new framework concentrates on the outcomes and experiences of young people with SEND, to highlight how the system works for them. I am grateful for all the responses we received, which helped shape our new framework, including those from young people and their families. As the sector prepares for future reform, I hope our new framework will act as a catalyst for much-needed improvement.

Dr Sean O’Kelly, Chief Inspector of Hospitals and interim Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services said:

Since 2016, CQC’s joint SEND inspections with Ofsted have shown there’s more to be done so that children and young people with SEND, and their families, receive the support and care that they need. It’s also clear that even though times have been challenging, staff in health care and in local agencies want to be able to do provide this vital support together.

With thanks to everyone who responded to the consultation, the new framework will help drive needed improvements with a greater focus on hearing from people who experience services – providing meaningful oversight of SEND provision built around the voices and experiences of those who know it best.

Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, Claire Coutinho said:

A world-class education should be available to every child, no matter their level of need. Too many families feel like they have to fight the system to get the right support, and I’m determined to see this change.

Ofsted’s new framework is a positive step change and will give parents and carers more confidence in the support their children receive in school. It sits alongside our ambitious programme of reform that focuses on driving better outcomes and standards for children and young people across the country.


  1. The new framework follows a consultation involving parents and carers, children and young people and education, health and social care representatives in summer 2022.
  2. Ofsted has published a consultation outcome report for the new area SEND framework. A separate report has also been published following a consultation with children and young people.

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