Evaluation of SEN and Disability Pathfinder programme

The Department for Education has produced its evaluation of the SEN and Disability Pathfinder programme.

The research report presents the findings from an assessment of local areas' (both pathfinders and non-pathfinders) readiness to meet the forthcoming special educational needs and disability reforms. The paper also provides an review of the initial effectiveness of the pathfinder champions.

Key findings of the report show that pathfinder areas were more advanced in their developments relative to non-pathfinder areas, and had made progress across the majority of the elements of the reforms between February and October 2013. This had resulted in most pathfinder areas reporting that they had either developed or were in the process of developing most of the requirements. Conversely, although non-pathfinder areas had also continued to make progress, a large proportion of this group still have to begin working on a number of key elements, which raises a risk around them completing all the relevant requirements by September 2014.
Progress against most of the reform elements were further advanced within SEN than in social care and particularly health. This is likely to reflect the primarily SEN-based nature of the reforms, an initial lack of capacity to engage or clarity on how to contribute on the part of health and social care practitioners, along with some uncertainty around the extent to which the reforms would result in more efficient and effective processes.

By October-December 2013, a good level of progress had been made in developing certain aspects of the reforms, including the Education, Health and Care (EHC) coordinated assessment and planning pathway, EHC plan templates, the local offer, and governance of the coordinated assessment and EHC plans. However, the following elements remained at an earlier developmental stage: eligibility criteria for the EHC plan; joint commissioning arrangements between the local authority and partner Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs); joint resourcing arrangements; personal budgets - particularly in relation to SEN and health; and workforce development.

Also referenced within the paper is take-up of alternative support from pathfinder and non-pathfinder sites which cites In Control as being the greatest source of alternative provision.

The full paper can be downloaded at

Leave Comment

Last Updated : 16 April 2014. Page Author: Laura Bimpson.