Category Archives: Health

From National Standards to Digital EHCPs: the future of SEND in England

GK associate, Monica Thompson, provides an insightful analysis of the UK government’s recently published SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan for the future of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in England. The plan proposes a range of policies aimed at fixing a broken system, including several key policies that promise to improve inclusivity among mainstream schools and introduce digital solutions for Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). Despite criticism from experts and campaigners over delays and setbacks in the government’s review, Monica discusses how the proposed policies are a step in the right direction to address the urgent need for reform.

On March 2, 2023, the UK government finally published its Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan, aimed at fixing the SEND system in England. However, the UK government’s review of the SEND system has been beset by delays and setbacks, prompting criticism from experts and campaigners. This plan proposes a range of policies, including the creation of new national SEND standards and the introduction of digital EHCPs. However, the government’s timeline for rolling out these policies is expected to take several years.

The government will be piloting the new national SEND standards and funding tariffs, along with digital EHCPs and tailored school lists for parents, for two to three years under a £70 million “change programme,” with nine regional expert partnerships taking part in the trial. By the end of 2025, the Department for Education will decide whether to go ahead with the changes nationally, which means that a national rollout might not happen until 2026.

The government’s plan includes a range of proposals to improve inclusivity among mainstream schools, but concerns have been raised over the timeline of the changes. Last year’s SEND Green Paper plans to consult on giving councils powers to direct academy trusts to admit pupils as part of a drive toward a more inclusive system, does not appear in the government’s plan. Instead, the plan focuses on making the process of applying to the secretary of state for a direction to admit a pupil “as effective as possible”.

The upcoming Academies Regulation and Commissioning Review will set out plans to incentivise improvement for all children in all parts of the country, including support for children and young people with SEND who attend mainstream settings.

It is widely acknowledged that the SEND system in England is in need of reform, and while the government’s new national standards promise to improve inclusivity among mainstream schools, many believe that the proposed changes are not happening soon enough.

The following key policies are highlighted in the review:

  1. National Standards: The government will pilot new SEND standards before legislating for them. The standards will be tested in 2022 and will focus on the most deliverable elements of the current system. Legislation will be introduced at the earliest opportunity to facilitate intervention in education settings if standards are not met.
  2. Accountability: Ministers will design accountability mechanisms to ensure government expectations are met. The standards could set out how schools must adapt physical and sensory environments to enable pupils with SEND to learn alongside their peers.
  3. Digital EHCPs: The government plans to standardize Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) templates and introduce digital solutions to improve experiences for councils, suppliers, and families. The digital EHCPs will be piloted in 2023 before being rolled out in 2025.
  4. Local Inclusion Plans: Local inclusion plans created by local SEND and AP partnerships will be introduced. Tailored lists of settings for children will be tested before legislation is introduced at the next available opportunity to make partnerships statutory.
  5. Mandatory Mediation: Mediation between councils and families will be reviewed. Professional standards for mediators and advice will be reviewed in 2022.
  6. New SENCO National Professional Qualification: The government will procure providers for a new leadership level SENCO National Professional Qualification.
  7. New Special Schools: The government has promised 33 new free schools and is currently assessing applications for new AP schools.
  8. National SEND Tariffs: The government will introduce a national system of funding bands and tariffs to ensure consistent funding.
  9. Alternative Provision Funding: The government will introduce a new funding approach for alternative provision aligned to its focus on preventive work with, and reintegration of pupils into, mainstream schools.
  10. Inclusion Dashboard: The government plans to introduce new inclusion dashboards for 0-25 provision to offer a timely, transparent picture of how the system is performing at local and national levels.
  11. Ladder of Intervention: The government will introduce a new ladder of intervention this year to strengthen accountabilities across all parts of the system.
  12. Alternative Provision Performance Framework: An expert group will support the development of a bespoke national alternative provision performance framework.
  13. Fair Access Panels Review: The government will review processes and develop options for ensuring transparent and effective movement of pupils without EHCPs.
  14. Independent Schools: The government will re-examine the state’s relationship with independent special schools to ensure comparable expectations for all state-funded specialist providers.
  15. Joined-Up Work with NHS England: Integrated care boards will be required to have a named executive board member lead accountable for SEND.
  16. National SEND and Alternative Provision Implementation Board: The government will introduce a new implementation board to hold partners accountable for the timely development and improvement of the system.

In conclusion, the UK government’s new SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan proposes several policies that aim to reform a challenged system. While the timeline for rolling out these policies may be slow, it is hoped that the trialling of the changes will avoid repeating mistakes made in the past. The upcoming Academies Regulation and Commissioning Review also provides an opportunity to improve support for children and young people with SEND across the country.

GK Insight_ Domestic Maritime Decarbonisation Consultation analysis

GK Insight: Domestic Maritime Decarbonisation Consultation analysis

GK Intern, Maddy Barton, takes a look at some of the key points from the Domestic Maritime Decarbonisation Consultation, published in July 2022. 

Although transport is the largest contributor to the UK’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the maritime sector only makes up for 5%. Despite emitting a relatively small 5.3million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, domestic maritime vessels contribute more emissions than domestic rail and bus emissions combined, which account for significantly more journeys up and down the UK.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has shown initiative and previously moved to encompass smaller sectors within the Net Zero Strategy. The DfT has now demonstrated a desire to go further by highlighting the need to move towards a cleaner future and the necessity of tackling emissions from the domestic maritime sector, and has published a new consultation aiming to establish the optimal pathway to net zero emissions for the sector.

Traditionally described as a ‘hard to abate sector,’ the journey to reach a net zero future will require significant buy in from the industry to ensure that new technological developments can be quickly brought into operation and achieve an effective reduction in emissions. Difficulties arose following the 2019 Clean Maritime Plan, which established a high-level route map to clean growth, and highlighted the scale of challenges faced by the maritime sector. Such challenges include maritime fuel prices which has resulted in a lack of incentive for shipping companies and associated industries to invest in reducing emissions, among others. To combat these challenges, building cross-industry and cross-departmental collaboration into the ‘Course to Zero’ strategy – which will be published following the Domestic Maritime Decarbonisation consultation concludes – will be essential to ensure the process of developing new maritime infrastructure is aligned with ongoing Government initiatives, such as levelling up. Rather than hindering action towards net zero, aligning maritime decarbonisation with challenges like levelling up offers considerable opportunities when delivered in unison, providing much needed investment to coastal communities that have too often been overlooked for central government funding.

The recently published consultation for domestic maritime decarbonisation, released ahead of a later ‘Course to Zero’ strategy to plot the route to net zero emissions for the industry, indicates the level of the Government’s commitment to creating a regulatory environment in which promising technologies can be implemented in order to assist the journey to a net-zero future, such as using hydrogen-derived fuels, including ammonia, and battery electrification. Moreover, the consultation will seek to identify different strategies in order to reach net zero emissions by 2050, as well as understanding the remaining barriers to this sector.

To kickstart this process, the Government has committed £416 million to support the research and development of transport decarbonisation, and £206 million has been specifically allocated to establish a new team within the DfT- the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions – whose aim is to support the decarbonisation of the maritime sector. This move highlights the progressive mindset permeating through government – at least until Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak become Prime Minister – and demonstrates the government’s understanding of the severity of the crisis given that it deems it sufficiently important to strongly intervene. Further government intervention can be seen through economic measures such as supporting the raising green finance, as well as working with industry leaders to promote investment from beyond the maritime sector.

GK Strategy are experts at helping organisations navigate government policy and position themselves as leaders within their sector. If you would like to learn more about the future net zero policy landscape, please do get in touch.

GK Point of View - As Boris Johnson continues to cling on, can the Shadow Cabinet provide a convincing alternative_

GK Point of View – As Boris Johnson continues to cling on, can the Shadow Cabinet provide a convincing alternative?

GK Intern, Jed Shashu, reflects on the Shadow Health Secretary, Wes Streeting’s response at an Institute for Government event – on how to tackle the challenges facing the Health and Social Care sector.

At a time when Boris Johnson’s premiership is characterised by failing public trust and rising inflation, the Conservatives may well struggle to rebuild their brand in time for the next General Election. Recent opinion polls show greater support for the Labour party, and coupled with the upcoming by-elections and the results of the investigation by the Committee of Privileges, this could lead to Boris Johnson’s leadership becoming untenable. The Labour Party as the next ruling party is a serious possibility, therefore the shadow cabinet’s policy recommendations, proposals, and scrutiny of the current government’s actions gain increasing importance.

However, Labour are still struggling to reveal their key policies. One example is the Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Wes Streeting who was recently speaking at an Institute for Government event. Although highly regarded in the role, Streeting did not offer clear policy proposals for the NHS or a pre-legislative proposal for the Health and Social Care sector. Streeting instead presented vague recommendations which offered a glimpse of Labour’s health policy and proposed solutions to tackle the current issues within the Health and Social Care sector, evolving around the mantra of both undisclosed reforms and resources which are needed to produce results.

One glimpse of a Labour policy to relieve pressure on the NHS came in the form of a previously announced National Care Service to provide free personal care for older people. Streeting said that this policy, which was first announced in September 2019, could be delivered within the first term of a Labour government. Additionally, he also argued his case for an effective workforce planning strategy, to tackle workforce shortages by investing in training for junior doctors to take on more frontline roles, increasing wages of the lowest paid in the sector, and greater investment in social care staff. However, while promoting these appealing policy proposals, he fell short of laying out any form of costs or targets that Labour would incur if in government.

These recommendations, if thought out, could certainly help tackle the biggest challenges facing the NHS and adult social care sector. Training junior doctors to have the skills take on more frontline roles could help ease the strain on our health service, while helping to clear the NHS backlog and the NHS staff shortages of 110,000. Increasing wages of the lowest paid in the sector can help those struggling to deal with the rise of the cost of living. The creation of a National Care Service and investing in social care staff could, if implemented correctly, help the structural issues within social care. Structural issues that have been worsened by the £4.6 billion cut to social care budgets and the impact of the pandemic. Recent estimates suggest 1.2 million older people’s needs are going unmet, this would mean the older generation who are not receiving adequate care can receive the support they need.

Discussing the necessary funds, Streeting attacked a recent statement by Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, who said that the NHS does not require more funding. The Shadow Health Secretary argued the government’s underfunding of the country’s health and social care sector needs to be resolved by greater investment from the Treasury to address the underlying problems the pandemic uncovered and a structural reform of the NHS. Streeting indicated he will continue to stress to Her Majesty’s Treasury that investment in Health and Social Care is vital not only for public health but can boost the UK’s economy in the long term. However, throughout the event, he maintained a certain vagueness when speaking about the necessary funds and structural reforms, missing a clear chance to take advantage of the Conservative government’s tarnished image.

Streeting said that one solution comes in the form of the life sciences sector, which he said is “critical” in aiding the NHS perform at its best. He argued that this can be achieved by investing more in the sector; as this can lead to new medicines, treatments, and technology, which in return would ensure more patients receive effective pre-emptive treatments – this is necessary to help tackle the country’s greatest health issues including cancer, obesity, and ageing.

On the future of health, Streeting said it was critical to learn the lessons from the pandemic and build up resilience to minimise the effects of a new pandemic. He believes scaling up of vaccination rollouts, the implementation of “germ games” and an annual report presented to parliament as part of regular pandemic planning are key lessons to adapt and minimise the effects of future pandemics.

The Institute for Government event did not offer clear policy proposals, and Labour will have to solidify a policy base on which it will run in the next General Election. Labour’s lack of potential proposals could be the opposition party awaiting another Conservative blunder to deliver a coup de grace, but the public will undoubtedly expect more from any ministers of a potential cabinet.

What the event did highlight was Wes Streeting’s effective communication skills, quickness, and boldness that as Labour leader, the party could win back the decisive ‘Red Wall’ constituencies. Streeting may have distanced himself from replacing Keir Starmer, but his vision for the Health and Social Care sector shows qualities that are necessary not only for a future Secretary of State but a potential Prime Minister.