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SEND Pathfinder


The Green Paper 'Support and aspiration:
A new approach to special educational needs and disability', DfE March 2011, set out the Government’s vision of a radically different system which supports better life outcomes for young people, gives parents confidence by giving them more control, and transfers power to professionals on the front line as well as to the local community.

Welcome to the pathfinder website, it is here to support the reforms and share learning from the pathfinders, on it you will be able to read about pathfinder progress in a number of key test areas, keep up to date with the development of legislation and guidance and find materials to support implementation.

Programme Overview

In March 2011, the Government published its consultation Green Paper on special educational needs and disability. The purpose of this paper was to test a range of proposals designed to respond to existing failings and frustrations within the system. A tender process resulted in grants being awarded to 31 Local Authorities in England, who formed 20 SEND pathfinders with their PCT partners. There is no national ‘blueprint’ for how things should be done, so it is up to individual pathfinder areas to: design new arrangements to pilot and test how well they work in practice to better support life outcomes for children and young people; to give parents confidence by giving them more control; and to transfer power to professionals on the front line and to local communities.

The Department for Education and Department of Health have appointed Mott MacDonald as the pathfinder support team. Mott MacDonald will be working closely with all 20 pathfinders to support them in developing a single assessment and plan process and testing the different elements of the Green Paper. You can read our recent updates on pathfinder and support team activity on the 'Mott MacDonald Support Team' page by clicking here.

Latest News

April 2014


The Department for Education launched a public consultation on a new Code of Practice last autumn - by the time this closed on 9th December 2013 over 700 responses had been received. Since then these responses have been analysed and further discussions have been held with representatives of those who have to have regard to the Code, to ensure that revision secures maximum clarity for those who will be using it.

Those revisions made to the Code of Practice have been made available by the Department for Education and can be viewed on their website at

The Department is seeking the views of at key interested parties representing parents, professionals and local authorities. If you wish to respond to the e-consultation you will find the relevant documents at

The consultation period will run from 16th April to 6th May.


On 13 March the Children and Families Act (2014) received Royal Assent. It will reform the systems for adoption, looked after children, family justice and special educational needs.

On 8 April, Edward Timpson (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families) and Dr Dan Poulter (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health) wrote to local authority and health leaders with further information on transition arrangements in relation to the reforms. The letter has been sent to Chief Executives of local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups, chairs of Health and Wellbeing Boards and lead members. The letter requests they give personal attention to ensuring that the new SEND system is implemented in a way that will deliver maximum benefits for children and young people with SEND. An updated implementation pack accompanies the letter, which outlines the vision for the reforms and contains useful information for strategic leaders.

The Minister for Children and Families is also writing to schools, parents and FE colleges about the reforms.

March 2014


Following 2 years of consultation, debates and testing the Children and Families Bill received Royal Assent on the 13th of March. This Act will take effect in September 2014 and will introduce a number of changes to the way disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs (SEN) receive support going into the future.

For more information please visit

January 2014


The Department for Education has released a letter containing details of the 2014/15 SEN Reforms Grant.

The purpose of this grant is to provide support to local authorities in England towards expenditure lawfully incurred or to be incurred by them. Local authorities can spend this one-off grant to recognise the programmes of change underway in the areas of SEN.

Local authorities can spend this one-off grant to recognise the programmes of change underway in the areas of SEN. They may, however, choose how to spend the money in order to best meet local need.

To view this letter please click here.


Please see below for a link to the two latest SQW thematic reports, each based on in-depth interviews undertaken in five of the twenty pathfinders:

These two reports cover:

1. Key working and workforce development: this report describes the different models of key working that have developed in pathfinder areas and identifies some of the key skills and training requirements needed to deliver the role successfully. The report also highlights some challenges for key working in the future and sets out some potential solutions.

2. The Education, Health and Care planning pathway for new entrants to the SEN system: this report describes the planning pathways developed in pathfinder areas, comparing and contrasting the different approaches taken. It highlights the main differences between the EHC planning pathway and the SEN Statementing process and concludes that interviewees believe the new way of working is leading to better quality and more holistic plans. The report sets out some of the challenges faced by pathfinders in implementing the EHC planning pathway and offers some potential solutions.


On the 7th of January, Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families, reported a new £30 million fund for more than 1,800 independent supporters to help parents navigate the new special educational needs process. This £30 million will be used to recruit and train a pool of ‘independent supporters’ drawn from independent voluntary, community and private organisations to help the families of children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) through the new process following comprehensive reforms to support.

Further information can be found via the following link:

The Council for Disabled Children have also published information, including a useful ‘Questions and Answers’ page which can be found via the following link:


Further items can be found on the 'News Archive' page by clicking here.

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