In our recent work with UK local authorities using our SEND model to support their understanding of future demand, and setting strategies to handle that demand, we have had a lot of conversations about what types of strategies they want to explore. While our initial work is focused on setting an accurate baseline projection, this is typically a foundation for the further exploration of  a variety of scenarios of how to best manage pressures on the service.

We previously talked in more technical terms about how we categorise those scenarios, but there are a few specific scenarios that we see repeatedly. Here are the top three “SEND scenarios” that we find ourselves running the numbers on in 2018:

  1. Reducing out of borough (OOB) placements for some of the more common need types where there is in-borough provision available. Many authorities find themselves with more and more very costly OOB placements than they would ideally have, due to accidents of timing and capacity. Reducing unnecessary use of OOB settings is an obvious way to manage spending, as well as to reduce pupil commutes to improve their quality of life. The modelling nuance for these is that obviously pupils should not just move wholesale – we need instead to consider how many pupils will reach a natural “transition point”, for example from primary to secondary, and at that moment what subgroups of those pupils might have needs that could be met in borough. If we model this properly, this gives us the chance to play out over time what the financial impact would look like if pupils were indeed kept in borough, as well as exactly what capacity would need to be made available in-borough each year to make that work. In our jargon, this is a “type 2b“, “modify a setting’s joiner transition rate and transfer those joiners to another setting”.
  2. Meeting more pupils’ needs in supported mainstream settings, rather than special settings. This is a more nuanced area for discussion, as it needs careful consideration of which groups of pupils would benefit from the mainstream setting vs special setting, as well as agreement with local heads of how this would in practice be implemented and funded. Nonetheless, it is almost always on the agenda, both as a financial and an outcomes improvement measure. We usually find ourselves simulating the consequences of a number of different “inclusion” scenarios, to work out what is practical and support the discussions and negotiations between stakeholders here. This is where in modelling terms things get more complex, combining modifications to joiner and transfer rates (2b) and modifying transition rates to other settings (4a).
  3. Stress testing what will happen if incoming EHCP rates continue to rise, particularly with autistic spectrum disorder and social emotional and mental health need types. This rise is a fundamental source of pressure for most authorities, and the key need types seem to be consistent across locations and demographics. For our simulation purposes this is a simple modification to joiner rates.

We will continue to evolve this list as our clients’ thinking moves over time. Let us know if you’d like to discuss your own ideas, at


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