The Department for Education has published its response to the SEND Review green paper consultation – the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan.
The plan follows engagement with around 6,000 consultation responses and 175 events, aiming for the new reforms to take into account the views of children, young people, parents and carers.
Peter Carpenter, Chair of the Neurodevelopmental psychiatry Special Interest Group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists said:
“This announcement shows steps are being taken to increase trained support staff in SEND, including for Early Years staff and specialists, which may help with the early identification of autism. We hope in practice, staffing numbers will be able to meet demand, and teachers will be given the time and support necessary to access training in this area.
“Late diagnosis can potentially lead to worse outcomes for children. The easier it is to access support, the earlier interventions can take place. Without this, children with unmet needs may go on to require specialist mental health services. These services are also under significant pressure, as demand for mental health support reaches record levels
“Psychiatrists often play an important role in treating children with autism who have co-existing mental health conditions. Investment in the psychiatric workforce alongside the plan commitments could go one step further in ensuring children can access timely support.“It is encouraging that the Department for Education and the Department for Health and Social Care are taking a joint approach to SEND workforce planning. We hope this will align with the highly anticipated NHS Workforce Plan due to be published this year. It is crucial that workforce shortages undermining psychiatric services are addressed so that young people can access the support they need.”