Catalyst Courier April 2024

Welcome to our latest edition of the Catalyst Courier. If you have information to share or topics you’d like us to cover please get in touch ([email protected]

Our April SENDCO Network was held in person, at the Old Parsonage, with information from  Teresa Regan who shared updates from the SEND change programme and opened up discussions and learning around gender questioning children. There was also a monthly resource update from Catalyst.  

Our next SENDCO Network is 18th June 2024


Updates from the national change programme

Teresa Regan shared updates from the SEND change programme which have recently focused on the consultation they have been gathering around new EHC needs assessment advice templates as the system moves to becoming digitalised and consistent nationally. Updates also shared that local authorities were in the process of consulting on national funding systems.  

The new EHC needs assessment advice templates for education settings and for educational psychologist were then shared with SENDCOs for discussion, which prompted some feedback around the strengths and challenges of the proposed templates.

 Teresa shared that as an EP team we are continuing to work in partnership with One Education to develop a shared report format, which will most likely be introduced from September.

Workshop: Gender Questioning Children

This discussion began with a presentation from Teresa which aimed to explore the topic of gender questioning children, begin to develop an understanding of some of the issues and differences of opinion across the topic, and enable SENDCos to develop of knowledge of key policies and start to consider issues that might arise in school practice.

The presentation followed a timeline which highlighted the key developments and recent documents, including summaries of the documents linked below:


GIDS (The Tavistock) prompted the Cass review: Interim report 2022. The Tavistock GIDS was the only centre in the UK which was specialised in working with children with gender and identity issues. The Centre was closed in March 2024 following concerns particularly around the increase in referrals and subsequent use of puberty blockers for those children on the waitlist.

Tortoise media have produced a great podcast which outlines the story of the Tavistock GIDS and how it came to close, click here to listen. 

The Cass review explores the complexity of gender incongruence including the relationship between neurodiversity and gender dysphoria, the developmental considerations for children and adolescents and the biological and psychosocial factors while having an overview of a young persons rights, autonomy and protection.

For the full report click here: Cass Review Final Report April 2024

Slides to the full presentation can be found here: Gender Questioning Children – SENDCO Network April 2024.

DFE Non-statutory guidance

There was then a discussion around the non-statutory guidance published by the DFE and recently under consultation. The consultation has now closed. As outlined in the guidance the 5 overarching principles were discussed.

  1. Schools and colleges have statutory duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children. They should consider how best to fulfil that duty towards the child who is making such a request and their peers, ensuring that any agreed course of action is in all of their best interests. This may or may not be the same as a child’s wishes. Knowing a child’s sex is critical to schools’ and colleges’ safeguarding duties.
  2. Schools and colleges should be respectful and tolerant places where bullying is never tolerated. Staff and children should treat each other with compassion and consideration, in accordance with the ethos of the school or college.
  3. Parents should not be excluded from decisions taken by a school or college relating to requests for a child to ‘socially transition.’ Where a child requests action from a school or college in relation to any degree of social transition, schools and colleges should engage parents as a matter of priority, and encourage the child to speak to their parents, other than in the exceptionally rare circumstances where involving parents would constitute a significant risk of harm to the child.
  4. Schools and colleges have specific legal duties that are framed by a child’s biological sex. While legislation exists that allows adults to go through a process to change their legal sex, children’s legal sex is always the same as their biological sex.
  5. There is no general duty to allow a child to ‘social transition.’ The Cass Review’s interim report is clear that social transition is not a neutral act, and that better information is needed about the outcomes for children who undertake degrees of social transition. If a school or college decides to accommodate a request, a cautious approach should be taken that complies with legal duties. Some forms of social transition will not be compatible with schools’ and colleges’ statutory responsibilities.

Workshop Scenarios

Following the discussion and presentation surrounding the guidance and reviews completed SENDCOs were given scenarios to consider issues that might arise in school practice when supporting gender questioning children.  



SENDCO feedback

Questions around policy for changing facilities to support all children including those who’s gender identity is different to their sex assigned at birth.


  • Follow DFE guidance around sleeping, changing facilities and toilets which require schools to provide a single sex space and then provide a separate space for those social transitioning. However, difficulties may arise if there are limitations on the school facilities available.  


Supporting a young person who has social transitioned with their transition to secondary school.

  • Like any transition SENDCOs discussed how they would make the secondary school aware of the child chronology and support offered, ensuring you liaise with new school to see what provision is already available and then advocate for the child where needed.


Throughout the task SENDCOs recognised this topic evokes a lot of conversations between parents and schools to find ways to support everyone. There are a lot of strong views around this area for all stakeholders and SENDCOs shared they felt the guidance was much needed to ensure schools are safeguarding, supporting and providing a clear consistent approach in line with other schools.

Further resources can be found on our Gender Questioning Children resource page.

Resource Update

A new resource update has been published on the Catalyst website and can be found here: April Resource Update

Our new resource page directory has been added to the website and can be found here. It is possible to filter resources in this format however if users prefer a copy of the document can be downloaded – please remember any downloads will not be up to date with any new resources.

Our April resource update links with the following awareness/celebration days:



Our next SENDCO Network is 18th June 2024

Our next Catalyst Courier is due out on Tuesday 2nd July

If you have any items, you’d like us to cover please get in touch: [email protected]

With best wishes

Teresa and the Catalyst team