Revealed: The 21 experts to oversee roll-out of SEND reforms

Board members tasked with holding government to account for 'timely development and improvement' of SEND system

Board members tasked with holding government to account for 'timely development and improvement' of SEND system

The government has named the 21 members of its SEND and alternative provision implementation board who will be tasked with overseeing the roll-out of key reforms.

Association of Colleges senior policy manager David Holloway, children’s commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza and Ofsted national director Chris Russell are among the members of the board.

It is chaired jointly by children’s minister Claire Coutinho and mental health minister Maria Caulfield, and met for the first time today.

Last year’s SEND green paper proposed such a board to “hold partners to account for the timely development and improvement of the system”. Plans were confirmed in the government’s improvement plan earlier this year.

Children's minister Claire Coutinho
Claire Coutinho

Today, the government named members of the board, which it said would oversee the “actions government will take to improve children’s outcomes, and parents’ and carers’ experience of the SEND and AP system in England”.

“The national SEND and AP implementation board will oversee these actions and provide challenge and advice. The members will provide feedback and insight from their sector. They will also help to champion the changes we’re making.”

Coutinho said it was “fantastic to chair the first meeting of the national SEND and AP implementation board, and get the board members’ views on how to best make sure each local area can deliver for parents and families through our new local inclusion plans”.

“The board members bring a range of expertise from parents and family groups, education, health and local government that will be invaluable in making sure that the new system we are creating delivers the early intervention and better support that children need.”

Here’s the full list of members…

  • Claire Coutinho MP, Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing (Chair)
  • Maria Caulfield MP, Minister for Women and Minister for Mental Health and Women’s Health Strategy (Chair)
  • Leora Cruddas, Chief Executive, Confederation of Schools Trusts
  • Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner
  • Susan Douglas, CEO, Eden Academy Trust
  • Tina Emery and Sarah Clarke, co-chairs, National Network of Parent Carer Forums
  • Michael Freeston, Director of Quality Improvement, Early Years Alliance
  • Richard Gill, Chair, the Teaching School Hubs Council and CEO of the West Midlands MAT, The Arthur Terry Learning Partnership
  • David Holloway, Senior Policy Manager, Association of Colleges
  • Alison Ismail, Director, SEND and Alternative Provision, Department for Education
  • Christine Lenehan, Director, Council for Disabled Children
  • Nigel Minns, Strategic Director – People, Warwickshire local authority, and chair of the Association of Directors of Childrens Services Health, Care and Additional Needs Policy Committee
  • Sue North, Head of Children and Young People for Learning Disability, Autism and SEND, NHS England
  • Professor Sarah O’Brien, Chief Nurse, Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board
  • John Pearce, Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Services at Durham County Council and President of the Association of Directors of Childrens Services
  • Christopher Russell, National Director of Education, Ofsted
  • James Sanderson, Director of Community Health & Personalisation and joint SRO for SEND in NHS England
  • Alison Stewart, Head of SEND, South West London Integrated Care Board
  • Mark Vickers, Chair AP/SEND CEO Network and CEO of Olive Academies
  • Fiona Walshe, Director for Mental Health and Disabilities, Department of Health and Social Care
  • Simon Wellman, Director of Education and Skills, Telford and Wrekin Council

Board will take ‘full account’ of children’s views

Terms of reference for the board, also published today, state it will take “full account of the views and needs of children and young people with SEND and in AP, and their parents and carers”.

The board will operate in a way which “fosters co-production” with children and young people, and will use “expertise and knowledge to advise on the delivery and implementation of the SEND and AP Improvement Plan and how this impacts end users”.

It will draw on the “latest data, evidence and evaluation to provide insight into the current performance of the SEND and AP system” and ensure the improvement plan “stays current and adapts to broader social changes and new challenges”.

The DfE said members had been chosen to cover a “broad range of interests and expertise relevant to SEND and AP, and links across to other related key programmes across education, health and social care”.

“Where possible, members will set aside any organisational or personal interests in order to drive transformational change at the national system level.”

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