SEND Strategy 2024-25

Posted  30th April 2024

This blog is based on Judicium’s SEND Service ‘Sofa Session’ from the 1st May, with our resident expert Rik Chilvers. This session focused on what schools can do to ensure you're Ofsted-ready, what the change in SENDCO training means for schools, and how the SEND & AP Improvement Plan will affect schools.

Ensuring you are Ofsted ready!

There are two main sources of information for what Ofsted are looking for with regards to SEND: the Education Inspection Framework and the School Inspection Handbook.

The executive summary is:
  • Schools must be aspirational for learners with SEND and this should be driven by the curriculum they offer.
  • Ofsted will want to see that children with SEND have access to the whole curriculum (and that this is worked towards even when they are offsite).
  • that careful assessment and planning means it is impactful.
  • that there is a robust and clear strategy for teaching reading.
  • and that children with SEND receive the cultural capital they need to succeed in life (so think about your inclusive extra-curricular activities).
  • Furthermore, bullying, child-on-child abuse and discrimination are not tolerated.
  • all leaders should be able to convey how they have achieved this.


A core part of Judicium's SEND Service is an annual, thorough audit of the school or trusts' SEND provision. When analysing the actions set in audit reports, there's a clear theme: leadership.

This doesn’t mean the schools audited have poor leadership - far from it! However, many of the most impactful ways to improve SEND provision require input from the schools' leadership teams.

Most importantly, your pupils are your pupils, whether they have SEND or not. Although Ofsted have specific things they're looking for, SEND cuts across all areas of your school: from teaching and learning, pastoral support, enrichment and to safeguarding concerns.

The challenge for leaders is to be able to provide evidence of a coherent picture of strategic work that ties SEND into all of these areas.

For example, when focusing on what Ofsted are looking for from Quality of Education, to be outstanding:
  • Leaders adopt or construct a curriculum that is ambitious and designed to give all pupils, particularly disadvantaged pupils (including pupils with SEND), the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.
  • The curriculum develops their knowledge, skills and abilities to apply what they know and can do with increasing fluency and independence.
  • Pupils consistently achieve highly, particularly the most disadvantaged. Pupils with SEND achieve exceptionally well.
  • This is realised through strong, shared values, policies and practice.

  1. Assessment and identification of SEND needs to be effective.
    • Review your procedures.
  2. Teachers need to be adapting their teaching for children with SEND
    • This is a huge area on its own, but it boils down to training, knowledge sharing and feedback.
  3. Align SEND priorities with those of the department heads or phase leads (e.g., vocabulary).
    • This helps avoid silos of responsibility.
  4. Ask Middle Leaders who have effective strategies to present to the whole staff.

Preparing for the call from Ofsted

It’s important to note you don't have to prepare anything. However, you may want to make sure you've got all the necessary information at your fingertips and that you're prepared for any challenging questions.

Some information you might find it helpful to have at hand:
  • Chosen key students from a range of E and K across years.
    • Let other staff know who these children will be in advance so you can be confident their books will be in order.
  • Printed copies of provision maps for key students.
  • A printed copy of your whole school provision map.
  • A few case studies: examples of your systems working well (e.g., referrals, APDR, transition support)
    • Have key data to hand (attendance, exclusions, progress, etc.).
    • Have examples of staff communications for the child.
    • Have a provision map for them.
    • Keep examples of their work.
A vital consideration when preparing for Ofsted is your narrative around how you have responded to data related to SEND. Key questions to ask include:
  • What are your most prevalent needs?
  • How have you responded to this?
  • How do you know that your response has been effective?

How the SEND and AP Improvement Plan will affect schools

SEND Leadership 

It's not a requirement in the SEND Code of Practice for SENDCOs to be members of SLT, though the guidance does suggest that they will be most effective if they are.

In a survey that Judicium ran earlier this academic year, we found 40% of SENDCOs are not on SLT. We also found there was often a disconnect between the priorities of SENDCOs and those of the Headteacher and other leaders, possibly as a result of SENDCOs not being on SLT.

These findings come at a time when the role of the SENDCO is being questioned by schools. You may have seen an article on Schools Week recently calling for a change to the name of the role, from SENDCO to SEND and Inclusion Lead. This recommendation calls for SEND leadership to be a core part of SLT and thus reflected in SEND Leaders’ pay.

In a similar recognition of the leadership necessary to ensure children achieve the best possible outcomes, the National Foundation of Education Research recently found that “where feasible” MATs should provide their schools with strategic direction regarding SEND and "facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing." Judicium’s SEND Support service offers this cohesion and oversight to trusts to ensure they are meeting their strategic vision.

The SEND and AP Improvement Plan

Disclaimer: the law, and children's rights, have not changed because of any of the work currently being done as part of the SEND & AP Improvement Plan ("the Plan").

There are many different initiatives running as part of the implementation of the Plan. Some are brand new, and some are rebranded or amalgamated initiatives that were running already. We encourage you to check out the SEND and Alternative Provision Roadmap.

Key Points:
  • The government is piloting and testing parts of the Plan via Change Programme Partnerships (CPPs): groups of three or four LAs working together.
  • What are they working on?
    • National standards aiming to reduce the postcode lottery nature of provision.
    • Designing a national system of funding bands/tariffs.
    • Developing local inclusion partnerships and plans with the goal of improving collaboration between and accountability for organisations.
    • Developing inclusion dashboards help SEND leaders better understand their local areas.
    • Reviewing mediation procedures.

Local Area SEND Inspections

A pre-existing initiative that was rolled into the implementation of the Plan is Ofsted's local area SEND inspections. The first iteration of these ran between 2016 and 2022, but they've been revamped for 2023 onwards.

The new version looks at: "the effectiveness of the local area partnership’s arrangements for children and young people with SEND" and will "where appropriate, recommend what the local area partnership should do to improve the arrangements".

Accordingly, there will now be a cycle of inspections with more frequent monitoring inspections for local authorities (LAs) who demonstrate inconsistent or worse provision.

Social care is now included in their review of SEND services.

Additionally, reflecting the growth of Alternative Provision since 2016, the new inspection framework includes "an evaluation of the local authority’s commissioning and oversight arrangements for children and young people in alternative provision".

When Ofsted have 'significant concerns', they will require the local authority to produce a Priority Action Plan (Area SEND) - what used to be called a written statement of action.

NB: We recommend checking whether your LA has been inspected and whether they have been required to produce an action plan as it will enable you to predict and get ahead of the changes and you may be able to influence the nature of the changes.

What the change to SENDCO training means for you?

This change aligns with the government's broader SEND reforms, emphasising national standards for mainstream schools to meet the needs of pupils with SEND early on, preventing escalation.

SENCOs who have already obtained the NASENCO will not need to complete the new NPQ for SENCOs. From September 2024, all SENCOs will:
  • Need to take the NPQ for SENCOs if they have not completed or started the NASENCO
  • Still need to complete training within 3 years of appointment - schools and SENCOs must ensure they enroll on training that will meet this requirement.
  • SENCOs appointed before 1 September 2009 will not be required to take the NPQ but will be expected to ensure compliance with the regulations.

The NPQ for SENCOs aims to equip participants with essential skills, knowledge and leadership abilities required for the SENCO role.

Key Features:
  • How long will it take? The NPQ for SENCOs spans 18 months, consisting of blended and structured learning and then followed by the assessment window.
  • Is there an assessment? To obtain NPQ accreditation, candidates will need to successfully complete and submit a written case study assessment with a 2500-word limit.
  • Who’s it for? The course is tailored for SENCOs in role, teachers interested in developing expertise in SEND for potential future SENCO roles, and school leaders committed to enhancing inclusive teaching.
  • When will it start? The teaching of the new NPQ is scheduled to commence in autumn 2024, replacing the existing National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO) qualification.
  • What is covered? The NPQ encompasses eight vital topics, including school culture, statutory framework, identification of need, teaching, behaviour, leading and managing provision, professional development, and implementation.

NB: For more information on the course click here.

Additional Info

What do Ofsted Look for when Inspecting for SEND Provision and Leadership?

If you require any SEND support in any of these steps or would like to talk to someone surrounding our SEND Support Service for your school, please do not hesitate to call us on 0345 548 7000 or email

You can follow us on Twitter: @JudiciumSG       @JudiciumEDU

If you’d like to review all of Judicium’s forthcoming sofa sessions please click here

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