What is an Area SEND Inspection?

This is a quick guide to explain what the Joint SEND inspection is about and what will happen during and after the inspection.

  • This is a new type of inspection that covers the local area and not just the local authority, so it will include Health services in the area. Inspections are jointly carried out by Ofsted (the same organisation that inspects schools and colleges) and CQC (Care Quality Commission). The notice period is 5 working days.
  • Inspection teams will consist of HMI, a CQC Inspector and up to two other inspectors (from other local authorities). Before they arrive they will have looked at national data and inspections by CQC & Ofsted on the local area. Local areas will be expected to know how effective they are and be able to demonstrate it.
  • All 152 areas in England will be inspected over 5 academic years (started May 2016). The plan is to inspect 30 areas a year but NOT in the school holidays. Local areas will be judged by the SEND Reforms and so if the local area is implementing the reforms well all will be fine. The SEND reforms were brought in with the Children and Families Act September 2014

Inspection results – this will be a written report and not a grade like it is for schools. Depending on the inspection report local areas may need to produce an action plan on how they are going to improve. There may also be some follow-up inspection activity from either Ofsted or CQC.

What will they look at?

  • The inspection will look at ALL children and young people 0-25 years who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, NOT just those with the most complex needs, statements or EHCs (Education, Health and Care plans). It will also include CYP (children and young people) who are out of county, home-educated with SEND and not in education
  • Inspectors will visit a small sample of education settings (for example schools, colleges and so on) that they choose, but they are NOT inspecting the school or college. They will want to meet parents and CYP from the setting.
  • Inspectors will visit Health and Social Care services focusing on their contribution and ability to work collaboratively to meet children and young people’s needs. They will not be inspecting these services.
  • There will be a strong emphasis on gathering the views of young people and parents and carers. This is an entirely new aspect of the inspection and will involve meeting parents during visits to settings and meeting with established parent and carer groups. There will also be webinar for parents and carers during the inspection week.
  • They will also meet with elected members, key officers for Health, Education and Social Care, leaders of Early Years settings, schools, colleges and specialist services.

 What does GOOD look like?

  • Local areas must work in partnership with children and young people, and their parents and carers, to understand their needs so that outcomes can improve.
  • Early years providers, schools and colleges must also work in partnership with the local authority and social care and health services to identify and meet these needs effectively.
  • Education, health and social care services must work closely together to jointly commission (plan and buy) the support and services their children and young people require, including where these are not located in the same area.
  • Focusing on the needs of children and young people who have an education, health and care plan cannot be at the expense of providing for those others who require support but who do not need a plan.
  • Early intervention and timely support can prevent some children and young people from needing an education, health and care plan at a later stage.
  • Each local authority must set out the support it expects to be available in its local offer and ensure that this information is accessible.
  • Ofsted/CQC inspection framework published  The framework and guidance for inspectors can be found at the following links: