Education, Early Years & Childcare

Schools, Colleges & Post 16 Provision

Consultation News

DfE consultation proposing changing the law on reviews of Education Health and Care Plans

The Department for Education has launched a consultation on the actions that a local authority should have to take if it proposes to amend an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan following a review meeting. They believe that the principal audiences for the consultation paper will be:

  • children and young people with EHC plans and their families
  • organisations representing children and young people with SEND and their families
  • LA SEND officers
  • any early years setting, school, college or other setting attended by children or young people with an EHC plan
  • educational psychologists, health professionals, social care professionals and others involved in the review of EHC plans

Some of the key points relating to the consultation are set out below.

Local authorities have various duties over when and how they must review an individual’s Education, Health and Care plan. In the SEND and AP Review Green Paper DfE said that they intended to change the timescale for the issuing of proposals for amending plans following annual reviews. The consultation is available at Reviews of Education, Health and Care plans: proposed timescales – Department for Education – Citizen Space. DfE are consulting on whether local authorities should:

  • have an additional four weeks after review meetings to finalise any changes they propose to a plan. (A March 2022 High Court judgment has clarified that the current duty on LAs is to do this within four weeks of the review meeting); and
  • have to circulate material for a review meeting a week earlier than currently.

They believe that these proposals will benefit children, young people and their families, at the same time as delivering a more workable process. The consultation closes on 12 August.

Green paper: SEND review: Right support, right place, right time

In March the Government published the SEND Review: Right support, right place, right time, a consultation on the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision system in England. The government’s green paper SEND review: right support, right place, right time sets out the changes it proposes to make to the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision (AP) system in England The government is seeking views on the proposals. There is also a separate summary covering the SEND and AP green paper and responding to the consultation, which explain the proposals and can be shared with parents and carers, children and young people to explain what the SEND review means for them. Published 29 March

On 9 May the Department for Education published accessible versions of the green paper, including:

  • a full British Sign Language version to support those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment.
  • an easy-read version to support those with learning disabilities
  • a guide to help children and young people with SEND or those in alternative provision to understand the green paper and respond to the consultation

The department is committed to ensuring the SEND and Alternative Provision Green Paper and consultation process is fully accessible. On the day of publication, the department provided a ‘request alternative formats service’ to provide everyone the opportunity to engage with the green paper and consultation, this includes provision of Braille, audio and other language translations. They apologise that a full range of accessible resources was not available from the first day of the consultation. The consultation period has been extended by 3 weeks, to 22 July 2022, to ensure everyone has the opportunity to take part in the consultation.  All resources are available on gov.uk: SEND review: Right support, Right place, Right time


Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have launched a consultation on a new joint framework for inspecting provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The new framework will look at outcomes for children with SEND, according to the consultation document. The new framework is aimed at broadening inspections to examine whether local area partnerships are identifying and meeting the needs of children and young people with SEND, but also to assess the impact on their lives and outcomes, according to the inspectorates. The new framework will focus on the experiences and outcomes of children and young people with SEND, including those in alternative provision (AP). Local authorities will be evaluated on how they commission, use and oversee such settings, according to the consultation document. Other key areas included in the new framework are:

  • Introducing an ongoing cycle of inspections and three distinct inspection outcomes.
  • Carrying out engagement meetings in all areas.
  • Strengthening Ofsted’s response where there are concerns through monitoring inspections and/or early re-inspections.
  • Promoting continuous improvement for all by requesting visible action plans following full inspections.
  • A greater push to gather evidence from children and young people with SEND and their families directly, as well as from area leaders, practitioners, and settings.

Under the new framework, inspection teams will include inspectors from education, health and care “so that there can be a deeper understanding of how effective joint working is in a “specific area”, the document adds. Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman, said: “The past two years have been challenging for all of us, but the pandemic was particularly hard for the most vulnerable in society.  “In that time Ofsted has continued to engage closely with the SEND sector, including bodies representing children and young people with SEND and their parents and carers. That has allowed us to develop and refine the proposals for a new framework. “I welcome responses from the sector whether that be parents, carers or children and young people themselves to help us shape our plans further. Working together, we can ensure that every child gets the best start in life, whatever their background or needs.”

The consultation, will run until September 11, as part of a range of engagement activities Ofsted and CQC are carrying out across the sector as well as with children and young people, parents, and carers, according to the inspectorates. A new approach to area SEND inspections – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


Ofsted propose to:

  • Introduce a separate new judgement within ILACS: “The experience and progress of care leavers”
  • Review and update the existing evaluation criteria to ensure they are relevant and reflect what good looks like for care leavers
  • Introduce the new judgement once all local authorities have had at least one ILACS inspection outcomes.

The consultation runs until 29 July 2022. Responses will inform Ofsted’s updated arrangements which they aim to introduce from January 2023. 
Introducing a separate judgement about care leavers within the inspection of local authority children’s services (ILACS) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

SEMH Free School

The new SEMH Free School, on behalf of Halton and St Helens Local Authorities is a project, led by the Department for Education (DfE) for the proposed new school on Naylor Road in Widnes. However, due to a number of setbacks, not least the COVID-19 Pandemic, the DfE has pushed back work on the project. 

Contact: Jill Farrell, Interim, Operational Director – Education, Inclusion and Provision  jill.farrell@halton.gov.uk

Special Provision Capital Fund Consultation Outcome

As required by the Department for Education, the Local Authority consulted on a proposal to provide capital investment in both the primary and secondary sectors in Halton, to assist in the reduction of placements at independent providers, particularly out of borough and associated transport costs for children with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs. A link to the Short Plan (updated June 2021), the original consultation document and a summary of the consultation outcomes can be found below:

Primary Schools
Special Schools & Halton Specialist Provision

Halton Specialist Provision
Provides details of the different types of SEND provision, number of place and Resource Bases available within mainstream schools for pupils across the Borough with staff trained, qualified and experienced in specific areas of needs.


All other Independent Special Schools and Special Post-16 Provision (Section 41 List)
Known as the Section 41 List The Secretary of State for Education has approved these under Section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014 for children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). The Government update this list termly.
Policy Statement about Out of Borough Provision
This Policy Statement explains Halton’s approach to Out of Borough Provision on the Local Offer.