The Use of an Open-ended '8 Field Focus' in the LLS SEND Review: Some Notes

“We believe that the knowledge for school improvement is owned by schools, exists within schools and should be shared between schools. In short it is not about the best leading the rest, but about co-construction and collaboration. London Leadership Strategy develops school leadership through careful brokering of relationships and bespoke support – matching the right schools and leaders together in programmes that are carefully focused around hard outcomes for pupils.”

David Woods, Chair of LLS

(i) Introduction

The SEND review guide has been informed by the experience and expertise of school leaders with a track record of improving outcomes for children and young people with additional needs. We believe it is important that school leaders play a significant role in shaping system practice in SEND.

The review process can only ever be a framework for reflection and the beginning of a process that offers schools the opportunity for further dialogue on how they can improve their provision for children with additional needs. We encourage schools to amend the templates in order to suit their own settings. The Guide has editable templates and a white-label version for schools, MATs and local authorities to adapt the Guide given their specific local needs. It is not a validated assessment tool that is used to hold schools to account - it is non-prescriptive and open-ended and has been produced to enable and empower teachers who are best placed to make critical decisions regarding its content, to take action.

(ii) The potential of SEND reviews

The use of ‘reviews’ of educational provision – whether individual school, local, regional or national – have long comprised one of the operational strands by which quality provision of services can be secured and then maintained (DfE 2013).

In meeting the needs of all learners, the value of a periodic ‘review’ (sometimes referred to as an audit, self- or peer-evaluation) has become established as a flexible way in which provision for SEND pupils can be scrutinised (Stack, 2014). The use of ‘communities of practice’ in promoting such reviews means that teacher reflection, supportive problem-solving and shared target-setting form an integral aspect of the process (Ainscow, 2015). In whatever way it is described or modelled, the review – seen in these terms – is a flexible tool which individual schools or groups of schools can use in both strategic and operational ways.

With this in mind the LLS Review defined 8 possible areas for consideration when seeking to develop a useable tool which schools could use to establish a realistic picture of SEND provision and practice, as well as map future actions. These were identified during a period of consultation with teachers, researchers and a range of stakeholders in the field. At the outset it was recognised that the 8 areas were starting points only: however, the importance of each in respect of SEND was validated by reference to a range of literature (both professional and academic) which has emerged during the 20+ years that have followed the publication of the first SEN Code of Practice in 1994 (DfE, 1994).

Accessing the SEND Review

The SEND Review template and information on SEND Reviews can be used can be downloaded for free at in the SEND Review Guide. 


Ainscow, M. (2015). Towards self-improving school systems: Lessons from a city challenge. London: Routledge.

Booth, T. & Ainscow, M. (2000) The Index for Inclusion. Bristol: CSIE

Chapman, C. & Sammons, P. (2013) School self-evaluation for school improvement: what works and why. Reading, CfBT.

DfE (1994) Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs. London: HMSO

DfE (2013) Review of efficiency in the schools system. London: DfE

Stack, H. (2014) Whole School SEND Reviews: Provision, Policy and Practice. SEN Leader. January.


(iii) Support for the current LLS 8-field focus

Indicative literature to support the 8-field focus of the SEND Review was drawn from a wide range of sources that underpin many of the principles of the new Code of Practice 2015, including the grey literature. What these suggest is (a) that the themes identified as focal points in the LSS Review are legitimate and on-going issues of concern to all stakeholders and (b) that further literature mining would potentially identify additional fields of focus – hence the open-ended nature of the SEND Review tool.

1.Outcomes for pupils with SEND

Black-Hawkins, K., Florian, L. and Rouse, M. 2007. Achievement and Inclusion in Schools. London, Routledge.

Kalambouka A, Farrell P, Dyson A, Kaplan I (2005) The impact of population inclusivity in schools on student outcomes. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

SOEID (1999) Raising Standards: Setting Targets for Pupils with Special Educational Needs Edinburgh: The Stationery Office.

2.Leadership of SEND

Ainscow, M. and Sandill, A. 2010. Developing inclusive education systems: the role of organizational cultures and leadership. International Journal of Inclusive Education, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 1-16.

Riehl, C.J. 2000. The principal’s role in creating inclusive schools for diverse students: a review of normative, empirical and critical literature on the practice of educational administration. Review of Educational Research, Vol. 70, No. 1, pp. 55-81.

3. The quality of teaching and learning for pupils with SEND

Davis, P., and Florian, L. (2004). Teaching strategies and approaches for children with special educational need: A scoping study. Research Report RR516. London: DfES.

EADSNE (2001) Inclusive Education and Effective Classroom Practices. European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education: Middlefart

EADSNE (2005) Inclusive Education and Classroom Practice in Secondary Education. European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education: Middlefart

Lewis, A. and Norwich, B. (eds). 2005. Special Teaching for Special Children: a Pedagogy for Inclusion? Maidenhead, Open University Press.

4.Working with pupils and parents/cares of pupils with SEND.

Attwood, R and Thompson, D, (1997), Parental Values and Care for the Child with Special Needs, in Lindsay, G and Thompson, D (eds), 1997, Values into Practice in Special Education, London: David Fulton Publishers

Desforges, C and Abouchaar, A, (2003), The Impact of Parental Involvement, Parental Support and Family Education on Pupil Achievement and Adjustment, DfES Research Report 433

Kane, J., Riddell, S., Banks, P., Baynes, A., Dyson, A., Millward, A. and Wilson, A. (2003) Special educational needs and individualised educational programmes: issues of parent and pupil participation. Scottish Educational Review 35, 1, 38-48

Moran, P, Ghate, D and van der Merwe, A, 2004, What Works in Parenting Support? A review of the international evidence, DfES Research Report 574

Department for Children, School and Families, (2009) Lamb Inquiry: Special educational needs and parental confidence.

5. Assessment and identification

European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education (2001) Inclusive Education and Effective Classroom Practices. European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education: Middlefart

Florian, L.; Hollenweger, J.; Simeonsson, R., J.; Weddell, K.; Riddell, S.; Terzi, L.; and Holland., A. (2006) Cross-cultural Perspectives on the Classification of Children with Disabilities, Part 1: Issues in the classification of children with disabilities. The Journal of Special Education 2006, vol 40(1) 36- 46

6. Monitoring, tracking and evaluation

Department for Education and Employment (2001) Supporting the Target- Setting Process: guidance for effective target-setting for pupils with special educational needs. London: DfEE

Florian, L., Rouse, M., Black-Hawkins, K. and Jull, S. (2004) What can national data tell us about inclusion and pupil achievement? British Journal of Special Education 31:3:115 – 122

7. The efficient use of resources

Meijer, C. (Ed) (1999) Financing of Special Needs Education: a seventeen-country study of the relationship between financing of special needs education and inclusion. European Agency for Special Needs Education: Middlefart

Ellis, S., Tod, J. and Graham-Matheson, L. (2008) Special Educational Needs and Inclusion: Reflection and Renewal. Birmingham: NAS/UWT

8. The quality of SEND provision

Dyson, A, Howes, A and Roberts, B (2004) What do we really know about inclusive schools? A systematic review of the research evidence in Mitchell, D. (Ed) Special Educational Needs and Inclusive Education Major Themes in Education vol.2 Inclusive Education. London: Routledge Falmer

Watkins, A & Ebersold, S.  (2016), Efficiency, Effectiveness and Equity within Inclusive Education Systems, in Amanda Watkins , Cor Meijer (ed.) Implementing Inclusive Education: Issues in Bridging the Policy-Practice Gap (International Perspectives on Inclusive Education, Volume 8) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.229 - 253

Booth, T. and Ainscow, M. 2002. The Index for Inclusion, 2nd edn. Bristol, Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education. International Bureau of Education/UNESCO (2016) Reaching Out to All Learners: a Resource Pack for Supporting Inclusive Education. Geneva: IBE/UNESCO

UNESCO (1994). The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education. Paris, UNESCO.


The SEND Review evaluation sought to highlight literature that emphasised the benefits to schools of working within frameworks which promoted the growth of ‘community of professional practice’ and the use of some kind of collaborative process to assess the effectiveness of practice across SEND. The evaluation did not commit to undertaking a systematic review (of the kind advocated, for example, by EPPI) given the resource implications of doing so. Nonetheless, the sources drawn upon have been widely validated as representing a credible and authentic view of the current situation. The SEND Review approach is firmly rooted in the understanding that there are many alternative ways to promote effective practices in our schools – each could be validated by literature (research, professional commentaries and so on). Our SEND REVIEW process does not, nor has it ever done, claimed exclusivity as ‘the’ way of moving forward. 


Anita Kerwin-Nye, Chair of the Whole School SEND Consortium; Philip Garner, Professor of Education at The University of Northampton; David Bartram, Director of SEND at London Leadership Strategy;