In the latest SEND Local Offer newsletter, Manchester City Council announced that Manchester has been chosen by the Department for Education to lead the North West Change Programme Partnership.

The government realised that the system for helping children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities isn’t working as well as it should. After listening to parent carers, young people and staff in education, health and care, the Department for Education published the Special Educational Needs and Alternative Provision (SENDAP) Improvement Plan. This sets out plans for improving outcomes for children and young people with SEND and those in alternative provision.

We are really pleased that Manchester has been chosen by the Department to lead the North West Change Programme Partnership. Over the next 18 months, we will be working with Oldham, Rochdale and Trafford to test the proposals outlined in the Improvement Plan. Our partnership will involve parent carers, children and young people and partners in schools, colleges, early years and health. Your ideas and feedback are at the heart of this process. Look out for opportunities to share your views and get involved, including our Local Offer drop ins.

The Change Programme is an exciting opportunity to test and improve some of the policy changes that were proposed in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan that was published in March 2023. With this, we have a chance to not only experience some of the proposed improvements but we can also help influence the way that these reforms will be implemented once it is time to roll them out to the rest of the country.

You might be wondering – how will this development affect me and my child?

While some of the reforms being tested are at a “system level” and may not necessarily or immediately be felt at an individual or family level, here are some changes that you might notice over the next 18 months:

  • A different EHCP template : The proposed new template is designed to raise the quality of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP), by making the section on a child or young person’s strengths and ambitions more robust; by embedding the “golden thread” between need, provision and outcomes more clearly; and by embedding prompts to help LAs produce lawful, specified and quantified plans.
    NOTE: The new template will only be used in a few new EHCP requests. Parents/carers will be given a chance to opt-in to this upon discussion with the EHCP team.
  • The use of “Advisory Tailored Lists” in the draft EHCP : This means that your draft EHC Plan will include a list of schools or other settings that are likely to be suitable to meet your child’s Special Educational Needs. The list is purely advisory. Your rights to express a preference for a setting remain in place and are unaffected.
    NOTE: The Advisory Tailored Lists will only be offered in a proportion of new draft EHCPs. Parents/carers will be given a chance to opt-in to this upon discussion with the EHCP team.
  • More information and encouragement to access mediation when you don’t agree with a decision related to your child’s EHCP : The government wants local areas to consistently provide families with access to high quality support to resolve disputes earlier and provide a more positive route for families pursuing their complaint. This does not change the legal rights of parents to challenge decisions made by local authorities.

Please do remember that the law hasn’t changed. Children, young people, or parent and carers do not have to surrender any statutory rights to take part in testing the reforms.

You may want to learn more about the Change Programme, which is why we created a document that gives an introduction to the programme here in Manchester. You can read and/or download the document below.

Please use the buttons in the Document Viewer above to navigate through the document. Alternatively, use the button below to save a copy on your device.

[Download the Introductory Document]

The Department for Education (DfE) and REACh (Reaching Excellence and Ambition for All Children) also created an Easy Read document about the Change Programme, which you can download through this link.

For even more information, please visit:

Finally, please remember the following:

  • Testing the reforms does not change any legal rights of child, young person,  parent or carer.
  • The Change Programme reforms are based on current legislation. There have been no changes to the law or changes to decisions about individual children and young people.
  • And, to borrow the words of IPSEA, “Local authorities must follow the law, parents/carers/young people can continue to rely on it, and the SEND Tribunal will continue to apply it.