An introduction to the work so far

The 54 local areas taking part in the programme have been split into three groups, known as ‘tranches’.

Tranche One

All 20 local areas in Tranche 1 have successfully completed their diagnostic and are now implementing their agreed plans.

Tranche Two

All 22 local areas in Tranche 2 have successfully completed their diagnostic and are now implementing their agreed plans.

Tranche Three

All 12 local areas in Tranche 3 are now undertaking their diagnostic. 

The analysis that has been carried out for the Tranche 1 and 2 diagnostics has been gathered together, and from this it has been possible to identify several key themes of emerging insight. These themes are now being shared with the DBV authorities, with other local authorities nationally, and with DfE.

Emerging Insights

The emerging insight shared here is an interim update from Phase One of the programme. At the end of Phase One in spring 2024, these emerging findings will be added to by the findings from the Tranche 3 diagnostics. This will provide a complete picture of the evidence from all 54 DBV local areas  of the total impact on outcomes for children and young people with SEND that can be achieved within the current framework.

Feedback from participating local areas to date regarding the support they have received during the diagnostic phase has been positive. They have rated the support received at least 4.5 on average (out of 5) on various satisfaction measures collected as they move in to their implementation phase. For more information about how the DBV diagnostics are carried out and what they involve, click here.

It is also important to reiterate the principles underpinning the DBV programme and which are reflected in the interim findings, in particular:

  • Enabling access to support in a timely way, to prevent escalation of need
  • Removing barriers to mainstream inclusion for children and young people with SEND

Who has been involved?

In addition to all of the existing intelligence gathered and engagement previously completed by Tranche 1 and Tranche 2 local areas, the DBV diagnostics have to date added evidence from many different stakeholders in the local SEND systems. This engagement was bespoke to each local area and was codesigned with the local area team:

800+ children

and young people have been engaged directly

1,200+ cases

of children with SEND analysed by local practitioners for learnings so far

5,000+ parent carers

have been engaged as part of DBV, in addition to building on existing co-production work in local areas

1,200+ practitioners

and professionals have been involved from across health, social care and

2,300+ education providers

have been engaged through survey or focus groups

The experience and views of these people has been added to nine million data points to create the interim DBV Phase One evidence base, and these numbers will increase upon completion of Tranche 3.

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What have we understood through engagement with each group and the analysis of the data?

This pack provides a summary of the input and evidence that has been gathered from each stakeholder group and what has been gleaned from the programme’s data analysis.

What the diagnostics to date are telling us about how outcomes for children and young people with SEND can be improved

Through the diagnostics carried out so far, the evidence gathered suggests that there are three most common and impactful thematic ways in which outcomes for children and young people with SEND can be improved by local areas whilst working towards financial sustainability (reducing unmitigated growth of spend).

The themes are easy to summarise but delivering these improvements will require complex, system wide transformation with support from all local partners.

These may not be the three priority opportunities for improvement in every single local area, but the evidence suggests that these three opportunities are the common, high magnitude opportunities to improve services for children with SEND.

The thematic opportunities for improvement include:

Ensuring that a greater proportion of children with SEND receive appropriate special educational support for their needs in their mainstream schools through ordinarily available provision.


Ensuring that children are placed appropriately in local special schools and receive high quality, effective provision.


Ensuring that EHC plans deliver effective outcomes, and that an increasing number of post-16 young people with SEND are able to continue into further education, employment or training through ordinarily available provision.

What changes are being implemented in local areas in response to the evidence gathered?

The examples below show the types of changes which local areas are planning to implement in response to the evidence gathered:

Specialist practitioners will offer expertise and support to early years providers

In one local area, a team of specialist practitioners will offer expertise and support to early years providers, schools (primary & secondary mainstream) and other professionals to promote inclusion, raise aspirations and improve outcomes for children.  Focusing on early identification and intervention, they will have a key role in determining the appropriate level of provision and support including monitoring the use of top up funding.  The SENCo Handbook will support staff to fully meet the needs of children and young people with SEND across the local area. This will support the development of skills and knowledge and ensure a consistent approach across the local area.

Developing a consistent framework of inclusion

Another local area will be developing a consistent framework of inclusion across the local area by supporting schools to complete “SEND Inclusion and Inclusive Practice Awards”. The award framework, supported by the SEN Code of Practice, focusses on removing barriers to learning through early identification, inclusive teaching and leadership. It promotes a pupil outcome focussed approach through evaluation and improvement of classroom practice and intervention.  Completion of these awards will mean that mainstream schools in the area will be better equipped to support children and young people with complex learning needs.

Improving awareness and engagement activities

One local area is aiming to improve the activities it undertakes to ensure parent carers are informed of the support and options available in the local area. Activities include children and young people/parent participation events to increase understanding of the support available in the local area and how to find information. The local area plans to hire a new Participation and Engagement Lead Practitioner to coordinate the approach and lead parent engagement activities.

Improving well planned transitions with professional groups

Another local area is planning to improve well planned transitions by setting up groups of professional to focus on supporting pupils at key transition stages. The project also includes the development of a training programme which provides support and individual outreach to both schools and families.  Reintegration plans will be supported through coordination with Education, SEND & Social Care. 

Piloting a single point of access for parent carers

One local area is piloting a single point of access for parent carers to get support. This should enable easier access to support, the provision of support at an earlier stage, and to reduce the need for specialist services.

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What we know so far about how these improvements can be made in a local system

The evidence from the diagnostics carried out to date highlights 17 elements of local systems supporting children and young people with SEND that are most prevalent and that can make the greatest impact on realising the three opportunities for improvement outlined above.

Each local area will have their own combination of these changes based on their local evidence, as well as any that are more specific to their local area and which do not necessarily appear in this list of most common focus areas.

Mainstream school workforce, resourcing and operations
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  1. The deployment of TAs, including how this is perceived by parent carers
  2. Teacher having time for children with SEND
  3. General training for school staff, specifically in supporting children with autism (all ages), Speech, Language and Communication Needs (primary) and Speech, Language and Communication Needs (secondary)
  4. Bespoke training, related to individual children, for school staff
  5. Communication with parent carers to understand their child's needs and maintain dialogue around their child's support (both at SEN Support and with an EHCP)
  6. Adapting curricula for children with SEND
  7. Other children being inclusive of children with SEND
  8. Children with SEND being able to access after school clubs
  9. Making secondary schools a more welcoming environment for children (with SEND)
Wider system support to mainstream schools
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  1. Efficient and effective LA SEND Assessment and Review teams
  2. High quality EHCPs including personalised and SMART goals
  3. Effective and effective LA SEND Outreach teams
  4. Efficient and effective LA social care teams
  5. Efficient and effective diagnostic and support services from health care providers (Paeds, SALT, CAMHS [particularly at secondary age], OT, PT)
  6. Other children being inclusive of children with SEND
Use of capital
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  1. To develop new special school provision to reduce reliance on the independent sector
  2. To develop new resourced provision in mainstream schools that reduces reliance on the special school sector
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three illustrated children surrounded by trees

This shows how best supporting children with SEND requires a local partnership across schools, the LA and local health providers.

The DBV local areas in Tranches 1 and 2 are now starting to use their DBV grants to implement the components relevant to their local area. DfE will be supporting local areas to maximise the impact on outcomes of these changes during Phase 2 of the programme. Although each local area has a bespoke plan to implement their own improvements, their intended workstreams can be grouped in to five categories:


Uniting the local system by developing and enhancing system partnerships, co-production and engagement, and managing the local improvement programme.


Delivering support to schools by using data to identify specific schools to focus on with targeted resources to help them support children with SEND more effectively.


Building a high performing LA SEN service by ensuring assessment and review teams are the right size and have efficient and effective practice and processes.


Building effective target services across LA SEND outreach, social care and local health services by ensuring services are the right size and have efficient and effective practice and processes.


A spine of data and system intelligence to track performance and target efforts, as part of day to day operations.

Next steps

A report will be published at the end of Phase One (in spring 2024) providing a summary of the complete findings from all of the DBV diagnostics.

In addition, a National Playbook will also be published in spring 2024, providing an open access toolkit to help all local areas complete diagnostic work autonomously in the future, and continue to sustainably improve the outcomes and experience of children and young people with SEND.

These outputs will help ensure that the learning across all 54 local areas supports DfE policy development and that the whole sector, beyond the 54 DBV LAs, is equipped to deliver future diagnostic activity that would lead to improved outcomes and experiences for children and young people with SEND and their families as well as a more sustainable financial footing for local authorities.