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Ofsted to examine how SEND pupils are prepared for adulthood

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission will examine how youngsters with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are being prepared for adulthood in forthcoming thematic visits.

The watchdogs have published guidance ahead of visits to a “small number of areas” to look at “a particular aspect of the SEND system in-depth” between spring and summer 2024.

They will look at all phases of a child with SEND’s transition to adulthood, from early years settings through to post-16 education, to get a detailed overview of how preparation for adulthood (PFA) arrangements are working.

The visits “will not result in judgments about local areas”, but the findings will be published in a report this autumn.

This will list the areas visited and flag examples of good practice and identify any systemic concerns.

Where good practice is identified, this will be “shared with the Department for Education and the Department for Health and Social Care to support their development of policy for the SEND and alternative provision improvement plan”.

Last year’s thematic review was of the alternative provision system in England, which found it was in “desperate need of reform” amid “systemic issues”.

Current system ‘not meeting needs’

Lee Owston, Ofsted’s national director for education said: “The current SEND system is not meeting the needs of too many children and their families.

“I hope these visits provide valuable insight into how we can improve the experiences of children with SEND as the government develops its SEND and alternative provision improvement plan.”

Lee Owston

Ofsted and the CQC will look at the extent to which schools and early years settings “develop the knowledge, skills, and independence of children and young people with SEND”.

The reviews will also investigate the support schools offer to help pupils to prepare for post-16 transitions, through routes such as further education and work with training.

The role of post-16 providers in readying youngsters for next steps like higher education, training, supported internships or employment will also come under the microscope.

The watchdogs will focus on “four key pathways” for PFA: employment, independent living, community inclusion and health.

They will look into…

  • How youngsters with SEND are supported to achieve their full potential
  • How they are empowered to make decisions for themselves and live as independently as possible
  • How they are supported to participate in society and live “as healthily as possible” as adults
  • The “enablers and barriers to effectively preparing young people with SEND for adulthood”

The team will usually consist of three inspectors: one from education, another from social care and a CQC inspector.

Each visit will typically consist of up to four days of off-site activity and up to four days on-site investigation, and inspectors will notify local leaders of the visits 10 working days in advance.

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