National Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Forum
Constitution and Terms of Reference


The National Special Educational Needs and Disability Forum is a regular meeting of the leading representatives of significant national organisations in this field. It is attended by the Department for Education. The National SEND Forum (NSENDF) is politically neutral, drawing together the providers, champions and commissioners of services for the most vulnerable in the maintained, non-maintained and independent sectors and across the 0-25 age range. The Forum is facilitated and convened by the Federation of Leaders in Special Education.

1. Vision

1.1 NSENDF will work to unite the voices of those leading SEND provision so as to encourage greater collaboration between major organisations and the leaders and practitioners of special education.

1.2 This collaboration will help build and deliver better services across the age range of 0-25 and along a broad, flexible and inclusive and participative continuum of provision for those with SEND.

1.3 This work will help increase the range of provision and improve its sensitivity and responsiveness to the changing individual educational, social and medical needs of young people.

2. Mission

2.1 NSENDF intends to influence, shape and evaluate policy by:
• representing the best interests of those with SEND and the families who support them
• reflecting the expertise and experience of practitioners
• responding to relevant consultations affecting those with SEND
• collecting and informing about effective practical approaches and strategies to achieve the best outcomes for young people with SEND
• having the highest realistic aspirations and expectations for the education, health and care for those with SEND
• prizing both effectiveness and efficiency
• suggesting and pioneering new ways of effective working
i)• supporting those in the field who strive to achieve and share the Forum’s aims

3. Aims

3.1 NSENDF aims to:
Guarantee and improve the achievement and wellbeing of the most vulnerable children with SEND
Make the most of the moment and of the future, researching the most effective and enjoyable practice for the best outcomes
Create a legacy for sustained quality and improvement in a way that recognises the rights, joys and dignity of the young people we work with and for

4. Objectives

4.1 To enable its representatives to contribute their specific areas of expertise and experience to a discussion and decision making forum that will both promote and respond to issues of strategic development and national policy and planning in the SEN field.

4.2 To secure a regular dialogue that links the opinions, concerns and suggestions of individual members of each organisation (the practitioners) to a debate held with those who establish government policy and guidance.

4.3 To improve the skills and knowledge of staff by contributing to the professional development of staff in schools, colleges and support services, by signposting resources and training, and contributing to research.

4.4 To create a more flexible and broader continuum of provision.

4.5 To ensure the achievement and wellbeing of children and young people with SEND.

4.6 To help to develop the skills of those who are leaders, and those who aspire to become leaders, in the field of SEND.

5. Title

5.1 The title of the Forum shall be the National Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Forum

5.2 The abbreviated form shall be NSENDF

6. Facilitation and officers

6.1 NSENDF shall be convened and facilitated by the Federation of Leaders in Special Education (FLSE)

6.2 NSENDF shall be chaired by mutual agreement. The default chairing will be undertaken by FLSE, (normally the vice-chair of that organisation)

6.3 Agenda, minutes and papers will be provided by the National Administrator, FLSE

7. Membership and attendance

7.1 Membership comprises the following organisations, which send up to 2 representatives to a meeting:

Association of School & College Leaders (ACSL)

British Association of Teachers of the Deaf (BATOD)

Browne Jacobson

DfE’s SEN Department


Federation of Leaders in Special Education (FLSE)

Local Government Association (LGA)

National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)

National Association of Special Educational Needs (nasen)

National Association of Independent and Non-Maintained Special Schools (NASS)

National Autistic Society (NAS)

National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF)

National Organisation of Pupil Referral Units & Alternative Provision (PRUsAP)

National Sensory Impairment Partnership (NATSIP)

New Schools Network

Special Educational Needs. Somerset Expertise (SEN.SE)

Special School Voice (SSV)

Whole School SEND

7.2 The members of the Forum may agree to ask representatives from other bodies to attend, make a presentation or join, if the body they represent is constituted and instrumental in furthering ambitious provision and outcomes for those with SEND and has agreed to their representation.

8. Process and scope of meetings

8.1 The Forum will meet no less frequently than 4 times in each academic year.

8.2 The Forum agenda will reflect the issues of moment e.g. DfE Consultations, Government Green/White papers and Bills, issues of policy and practice within the organisation of other key services such as Health and Social Care, and issues brought forward from the membership of representative organisations.

8.3 The business of each meeting will be minuted and distributed widely through the member organisations’ various networks.

8.4 The Forum will become a recognised and valued voice for special education extending influence within the national debates.

8.5 When appropriate, the Forum will be a catalyst to promote collaborations with key partners to offer leadership and counsel on the issues of the day.

8.6 The Forum has no power to impose its views and decisions upon the member organisations. Rather, it will be for the individual representatives to feed-forward and feed-back the views and understandings of the Forum for the benefit of decision makers within those organisations.

8.7 The Forum will be empowered to continually review and revise its constitution and terms of reference. Officers may be appointed to facilitate the efficient running of business. Any and all such decisions made will require agreement of a simple majority of those attending the meeting.

8.8 The Forum will agree action points and lobbying commitments, ensuring unanimity if under the name of NSENDF or making it clear which members have agreed to a particular stance or announcement. Nothing will be sent out in the name of NSENDF that is not agreed by all.

9. Finance and Accounts

9.1 Each member organisation will be responsible for the costs incurred by the attendance of their representative(s).

9.2 In the first instance, FLSE will meet the charges of securing facilities and services for each meeting. Members will then contribute to the overall costs as agreed and payable to FLSE.