Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have launched a consultation looking at how they work together to improve the experiences and outcomes of children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

They are seeking the widest possible range of views on how they inspect services from those who have an interest in, or expertise relating to, disability, special educational needs (SEN) and/or alternative provision.

This includes children and young people who have SEND, and their parents and carers, as well as local authorities, clinical commissioning groups, professionals and practitioners involved in the commissioning and delivery of services to children and young people with SEND.

The consultation includes proposals for assessing how agencies in a local area work together to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND, including the impact of commissioning arrangements on people’s experiences. 

Greater focus on hearing directly from children and young people 

Previously, the joint area SEND inspections focused on how local authorities were meeting their responsibilities in the SEND code of practice – statutory guidance produced by the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care. 

The new proposals give a greater focus on hearing directly from children and young people with SEND, and their families. This would allow inspectors to get a better understanding of what local services actually feel like to the people using them. 

The framework would also see greater accountability for local areas, introducing a regular cycle of inspections and three inspection outcomes that make clear what needs to improve and who is responsible. 

Dr Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care at the Care Quality Commission, said: “Good, effective regulation – just like good, effective care – is built around the needs of people who use services and an understanding of their experiences. 

“The work to develop these proposals and the feedback from people using services, parents and carers, and people working in services, will be vital in delivering meaningful oversight of SEND provision built around the voices and experiences of those who know it best.” 

The consultation runs until 11 September 2022 with the new inspections expected to start in early 2023.