From October, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be visiting local areas to find out about their arrangements for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).
The visits are designed to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SEND system and to support improvement. Inspectors will work collaboratively with local areas to identify what has worked well for children and young people with SEND and their families over recent months, what the challenges and lessons learned have been, and what the opportunities are for improvement for the future.
Ofsted and CQC will be publishing a series of thematic reports on what they have found during the local area visits. These will share insights to promote whole-system learning towards a stronger SEND system in the wake of the pandemic, as well as highlighting how services and support for children and young people with SEND have been adapted.
Today, Ofsted has published guidance setting out the details of how these visits will be carried out.
Inspectors will not be visiting every local area and participation in the visits is voluntary.
The visits are not inspections, nor will they replace the current area SEND inspection cycle. Rather, they will provide insights into how the SEND system is working over the autumn term while the area SEND inspection cycle remains on hold. Ofsted will restart those inspections when it is right to do so.
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman said:
Children and young people with SEND, and their families, have doubtless been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our joint visits to local areas with CQC will be collaborative and supportive, designed to support and strengthen the whole SEND system at this time, building on what has worked well and the lessons learned during this disruptive period.
In July, the Department for Education, with the support of the Department for Health and Social Care, formally commissioned Ofsted and the CQC to develop a new area SEND inspection framework, with inspections beginning once the existing cycle finishes. More detailed information about the future of SEND inspections was set out in a commentary by Amanda Spielman at the time.