News and Comment

OPM research into SEND pathfinder programme published by the DfE

Tuesday 11 August 2015

The final report from the evaluation of the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) pathfinder programme, featuring qualitative research conducted by OPM, has been published by the Department for Education.

The DfE commissioned a consortium led by SQW to undertake the evaluation. The team drew together a wide range of complementary experience as shown in the diagram below:


SEND Pathfinder programme diagram


The evaluation has been on-going since 2011 and has described and analysed the work done to develop new approaches to deliver Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans across 31 local authority areas, and the resultant impact on families.

The report considers:

  • Families’ experiences of the new system
  • The impact that the new system has had on perceptions of satisfaction, fairness and outcomes
  • The cost effectiveness of the new approach.

The report contains data gathered through:

  • A survey of 698 Pathfinder families who had received a completed EHC plan between August 2013 and April 2014, and a comparison group made up of 1,000 families that were in receipt of either an SEN Statement or the post-16 equivalent and had not yet received an EHC plan
  • Feedback from the initial and follow-up qualitative interviews conducted with families from a sub-set of 13 Pathfinder areas
  • Detailed thematic case study work by SQW in a selection of locations, including an assessment of the costs of the old and new systems.