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Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Joint Commissioning Strategy 2021-2024

This strategy forms the first Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Commissioning Strategy for Children and Young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND). It presents a collective vision and priorities to achieve this, with a focus on working together to bring about improvement.



Leicester City, Leicestershire County and Rutland Councils and Leicester City, West Leicestershire and East Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s) are working together to commission services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND).

Together, we commission a range of provision to meet need.  We are working together because a lot of needs across the area are similar and related, and because a lot of our providers are the same. In addition, for some families, funding for care and support comes from several agencies.  By collaborating we will improve our combined offer to children and young people, reduce gaps, provide better coordinated services and achieve value for money and sustainability.

This strategy explains how and why we will do this; spells out our aims and objectives; and sets out the action plan to take us there.  We see commissioning as a framework to help us work together to better meet need and improve outcomes. 

Although this is a joint commissioning strategy for the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) area, this doesn’t mean we will do everything together.  Some services need to be specific to individual agencies.  However, this strategy sets out those areas where joint working is intended and planned for because we believe it will add value to do these things together.  In addition, our single agency action plans support us to achieve where actions are specific to one agency only.

Together, these plans set the roadmap for work until 2024 to ensure we achieve our common vision.

Strategic context

This strategy forms the first Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Commissioning Strategy for Children and Young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND).  It presents a collective vision and priorities to achieve this, with a focus on working together to bring about improvement.

Good commissioning and effective integration between services lie at the heart of our strategy.  These aspects of our approach will increasingly be the focus of the inspections that we will undergo. The Code of Practice (COP) 2015 for SEND sets out the commissioning responsibilities across partners and the expectation that joint working and planning occurs, and we will continue to follow this Code in delivering the strategy set out here. 

Each Local Authority has its own SEND strategy and local offer.  Alongside this, the commissioning strategy sets out the framework and resources to make this happen. The different strategies and documents produced by each agency and their relationship to this Joint SEND Commissioning Strategy can be found on the Linked strategies and documents page.

As the public sector continues to experience financial challenge, a key objective of this strategy is to ensure that we use effective commissioning to make sure our services work well for children and families, provide positive impacts and value for money and are sustainable.   

By working together as agencies, we will be able to see the cumulative effect of the changes we put in place and this will allow us to assess the impact of our joint approach on the system and services that we all use (shared markets).  This is a key approach to managing risk through change.

For children, young people, families and carers, having agencies work together will help them to navigate an often-complex system of support.  By aligning and understanding each other’s worlds, we can support families holistically and ensure that every child can reach their full potential.

What is commissioning?

Commissioning is a way of understanding need, planning a response to meet this need and reviewing the effectiveness of action taken.  It is often viewed as a cycle (you keep going around to drive improvement). It is commonly described as having 4 stages which is described in more detail on the What is commissioning page. 

Our vision, principles and values

Through our services we want to remove barriers to opportunity, to improve equality of access and to provide care and support to enable children to enjoy and achieve life to the maximum of their potential.  We must do this through the best use of our available resources, spending wisely to achieve greatest impact.  We recognise this is best achieved through supporting independence, choice and personalisation.

We will know that we have achieved this when children, young people and families tell us this is the case; when we see improvements in outcomes on a par with other, similar areas; and when we are confident that the mix and quality of provision meets the diverse needs of our children and young people.

Each local area within LLR has their own vision for children and young people with SEND, commissioning effectively is one of the tools to help achieve these visions.

Our collective vision for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland is:

‘We will work together across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to improve the outcomes for children and young people with SEND.’


We will make sure that the commissioning decisions we make are based on a sound evidence of what children, young people and families need and on our analysis of what works to best meet those needs, within our available resources. We will analyse the real impact of services before planning any change, and we are committed to changing services that do not provide the quality of support that we know people want.

To ensure that services are of the quality that we expect, we will monitor, and quality assure them while they are being delivered.

We will work with children, families and young people to evaluate services and to plan change using participative and co-productive methods.

Aims, objectives and priorities

Across the local area we have agreed a common aim, objectives and priorities to support achievement of our vision.  These draw on other information contained in our strategy including what we know about local needs and outcomes.


Across the LLR area, we aim to use our funds in the best possible way to bring maximum impact to as many eligible children and families within the available resources.


We will:

  • commission wisely: we will look at quality as well as cost when commissioning, look at what is coming and plan for this in advance
  • commission together: examine our priorities for commissioning, look at opportunities to align work or jointly commission, particularly where we’re buying the same or similar provision. We will include children, young people and families in commissioning and make sure they have a voice in our reviews of provision.
  • target our commissioned activity: We will offer support or services to those who most need it or where there is greatest likelihood of it preventing an escalation of need.


Our priorities are broadly formed around the commissioning cycle and will be addressed in partnership across Council’s and the CCG’s:

  1. Build on our understanding of need and demand
  2. Plan to meet statutory need within available resource, forecast for the future and prevent escalation
  3. Quality assure our provision and contracts
  4. Examine how we can provide greater flexibility and tailored packages of support
  5. Align our services with those for adults, to prepare young people for adulthood
  6. Develop our joint working and governance approaches
  7. Jointly review our existing provision to ensure it meets needs and provides good quality support

Measuring our progress

We will use an action plan, prioritising actions according to feedback received through engagement on this strategy.  Each action sits alongside a statement of ‘where do we want to be’ and the steps to get there.

Collectively, these actions will ensure progress is made against our priorities.

Local information

There are around 22,000 children with SEND in the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland area with a wide range of needs.

For more information about children and SEND provision in the area, view the Key facts about children with SEND in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland page.

Current joint working

The agencies signed up to this strategy are already working together in a number of areas to bring about positive change through integration and collaboration. Details of current joint work can be found on the Engagement and co-production in commissioning page.

Future direction

We know there is more we could do and more we could tackle jointly.  Our priorities form the basis for our action planning and broadly follow the commissioning cycle.  Many of the changes to provision contained in the ‘doing’ phase of commissioning will be driven by a deeper understanding of the issues faced and the success of service responses and from the reviews of specific areas of provision. 

We have developed action plans for each priority, these are available on the Action plan page.

Engagement and co-production in commissioning

We will involve children, young people, families and carers to plan and review services, taking a co-production approach where possible. More details can be on the Key facts about children with SEND page.

Governance and accountability

This strategy is owned by the three Councils in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and the Leicester City, West Leicestershire and East Leicestershire CCG’s. More details about how it will be governed can be found on the Engagement and co-production in commissioning page.




The Clinical Commissioning Group – This public agency is part of the NHS, responsible for commissioning most of the hospital and community health provision.

Local Authority

Local Council for that area with legal responsibility for a range of service provision.


Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland – the area covered by this strategy, formed from 3 different local authority footprints.


Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities – a term used in many of the legal and policy papers referring to children with additional needs.

Domiciliary Support

Care and Support in your home, often referring to personal care e.g. washing, dressing, feeding etc.

Universal Services

Services that are offered to all children and young people, regardless of the level of need they have.  A good example of this is school places – all children are entitled to access school within certain age brackets.

Targeted Services

Services that are targeted at children that may need additional support to access provision or who may need services specifically designed to meet their needs.

Specialist Services

Services for children with severe or complex needs, usually accessed following an assessment of that need.

Shared Markets

Where more than one agency uses the same provider(s) to deliver a service


A process of analysing, planning, doing and reviewing the support on offer to improve outcomes


Working with those in receipt of services to design the provision they need

Local Offer

The services and support on offer to people in that area, including any criteria for access