From education to employment

Whole School SEND Consortium Joins Forces with the Education and Training Foundation to Deliver Universal SEND Services 

4 students at a table, one in wheelchair, looking at each other smiling

nasen – the National Association for Special Educational Needs (SEND) – the leading charity that exists to support and champion those working with, and for, children and young people with SEND and learning differences, has been successful in its bid to deliver the Universal SEND Services programme that has been funded by the Department for Education (DfE). 

This ambitious programme to develop the teaching workforce aims to ensure that more children and young people (CYP) have their needs identified and met effectively, resulting in successful learning in schools and FE settings, and leading to improved Preparation for Adulthood (PfA), including pathways to employment. 

The proposal, which was developed in strategic partnership with the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), was made on behalf of the Whole School SEND Consortium (WSSC) and includes solutions from the Autism Education Trust along with key delivery partners in the education community.

nasen CEO, and Chair of WSSC, Annamarie Hassall MBE, said: I’m delighted to confirm that we’ll be delivering the Universal SEND Services programme. It’s an exciting opportunity to connect and support all those involved in the education community – including schools, post-16 and wider settings. 

“Working together across the education system, we will provide training to teaching staff to identify and support SEND earlier and more effectively, as well as building relationships to drive positive transitions and to identify opportunities for joint working locally, regionally, and nationally. Our CPD approaches will be informed by the available evidence of what works both for educators and for learners with SEND, with the aim of creating a seamless pathway as they journey towards adulthood and employment.” 

Teresa Carroll, National Head for Inclusion at the ETF, said:

“This is a wonderful opportunity to bring together both school and Further Education and Training professionals to support a joined-up education journey for children, young people and their families – resulting in more of our talented young people achieving their aspirations. The partnership will really help to build on the outstanding work our Centres for Excellence in SEND have achieved over the past two and a half years and grow expertise from both sides of the system.” 

Sarah Broadhurst, director of the Autism Education Trust, said:

“As the number of children and young people receiving an autism diagnosis is rising, it is more important than ever to ensure that education professionals know how to support them. Each autistic child or young person is different. Supporting them in education settings require a deeper understanding of autism that can only be obtained through training and CPD. The Autism Education Trust is best placed to provide CPD as the leading, CPD-accredited professional development programme in the UK that is created in partnership with autistic people, parents and education professionals, supported by DfE.

“We are thrilled to have been chosen to be part of this fantastic partnership and to be given the opportunity to share our knowledge and understanding of autism with a wider audience. We very much look forward to working with nasen and the Whole School SEND Consortium on this ambitious programme that will enable us to amplify our efforts and upskill more education professionals and empower them to improve the lives of thousands of autistic children and young people.” 

The announcement coincides with major Government reforms aiming to place education at the fore and give every child and adult the skills they need to fulfil their potential. Children and Families Minister Will Quince said:

“I’m pleased that we will be working with nasen and their partners, the Education Training Foundation and Autism Education Trust, to support thousands of children and young people with special educational needs with their preparation for adulthood and into employment.

“Our Universal Services contract is backed by almost £12 million for three years. It will support school and college staff to identify young people’s needs earlier, including if they have autism, so that all children feel supported in their education and beyond.”

The Universal SEND Services contract will be delivered over the next three years, running to 31 March 2025.

For further information and updates, please visit or follow on Twitter @nasen_org and @WholeSchoolSEND

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