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From September 2014 the government will be implementing radical changes to the Special Educational Needs (SEN) agenda.
- The new 0-25 Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC plan) replace statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDAs) from September 2014.
- LAs are required to publish a local offer showing the support available to disabled children and young people and those with SEN, and their families
- There is a clearer focus on the views of children and young people and on their role in decision-making.
- The emphasis is on stronger involvement from Health and Social Care in identifying needs, planning and service provision. LAs and health services will be required to link up services for disabled children and young people so they are jointly planned and commissioned.
- Families of a child with Special Educational Needs or a Disability will be able to request a Personal Budget to access services. The Education Health and Care Plan will identify the needs and the provision.
- There is a greater focus on support that enables those with SEN to succeed in their education and make a successful transition to adulthood. Proving statutory protections comparable with those currently associated with a statement of SEN to up to 25 years old in further education – instead of there being a “cliff edge” when it is cut off at 16, to help young people into employment and independent living.
- Introducing mediations for disputes and trialling giving children the right to appeal if they are unhappy with their support
- Children would have a new legal right to seek a place and state academies and Free Schools – currently it is limited to maintained mainstream and special schools. LAs would have to name the parents preferred school so long as it was suitable for the child
A family centred system
Local authorities must ensure that parents, children and young people are involved in discussions and decisions about every aspect of their SEN, planning outcomes and making provision to meet those outcomes, and in:
- planning and reviewing the local offer;
- reviewing special educational provision and social care provision; and
- drawing up individual EHC plans, reviews and reassessments.
Working together for positive outcomes
Children and young people with SEN may need integrated support from education, health and/or social care to help them achieve their ambitions. Working together, these agencies can achieve far more for these children and young people than they can separately, more efficiently and often at reduced cost.
Maintained nursery schools, mainstream schools (maintained schools and academies and free schools that are not special schools), 16 – 19 academies, further education institutions, pupil referral units and alternative provision academies must:
- use their best endeavours to ensure that the necessary provision is made for any individual who has SEN;
- co-operate generally with their local authority in developing the local offer
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the local offer?
It is a requirement for the local authority to publish information about what provision it expects will be available for children and young people with SEN aged 0 – 25 years, both within and outside their local area.
The local offer must include information about:
- Education, health and care provision for children and young people with SEN (which should include information about its quality and the destinations/outcomes achieved by those who use it)
- Arrangements for identifying and assessing children and young people’s SEN, including arrangements for requesting an EHC needs assessment
- Other education provision (educational provision outside of schools or colleges such as sports or arts provision)
- Training provision, including Apprenticeships
- Arrangements for travel to and from schools, post-16 institutions and early years providers
- Support to help children and young people in moving between phases of education (for example from early years to school, from primary to secondary) and to prepare for adulthood
- Sources of information, advice and support in the local authority’s area relating to SEN including information provided under clause 32 of the Children and Families Bill, forums for parents and carers, support groups, childcare and leisure activities
- Arrangements for making complaints, for the resolution of disagreements, mediation and parents’ and young people’s right to appeal a decision of the local authority to the tribunal.
- The Code of Practice says local authorities must involve children in planning decisions about what services for young people with SEN are needed. This includes planning the content of the local offer, deciding how to publish the offer and providing feedback on the services contained in the local offer.
What is an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan?
An EHC Plan will replace current Statements of SEN and Learning Difficulty Assessments. The plan will be a legal document describing a young person’s needs, the provision to meet those needs and the suitable educational placement. Government has stated that the Plan must be person centred, focusing on the needs and aspirations of the child. EHC Plans will continue into further education and training, and for some young people up to the age of 25.
Who will have an Education Health and Care Plan?
The Department for Education has stated that a child or young person who currently has a Statement of SEN will have an EHC Plan. Guidance says that EHC Plans should be issued when the local authority considers the special educational needs of the child cannot be reasonably provided for with resources normally available to mainstream early years provision, school and post 16 institutions.
As the Bill and Code of Practice currently stands children and young people with primarily health or care needs will not be issued with a plan, unless these needs impact their education.
Will there be help for children without an EHC Plan?
Under the current system there is additional help and support for children at school without a Statement of SEN, through School
Action or School Action Plus.
Under the Children and Families Bill and the Code of Practice, School Action and School Action Plus will be replaced with SEN Support. SEN Support will be the support available in school for children and young people who have special educational needs but do not have Education, Health and Care plans. Additional SEN support is support to meet a student’s needs so that they can meet their individual goals.
What is a personal budget?
All families whose child has an EHC plan will have a right to request a personal budget. The personal budget will allow young people or parents to buy support identified in the plan directly, rather than relying on the local authority.
Parents or young people will be given a choice of whether they want to take control of the personal budget by an agency managing the funds on their behalf or by receiving direct payments, where they can purchase and manage the provision themselves.
What does the Bill mean for the health services?
The Children and Families Bill places duties on the health service in relation to children and young people with SEN. The health service means the responsible commissioning body, which will normally be the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) but for children and young people with certain health conditions this may be NHS England.
The health service must engage with the Local Authority to create joint commissioning arrangements for the health and social care provision required by children and young people identified as having SEN. These arrangements need to set out what health provision is to be secured and who is responsible for securing it. The arrangements must also establish a mechanism to resolve disputes between the different commissioning parties.
The health service must also cooperate with the Local Authority in the creation of an Education, Health and Care Plan by advising on what kind of health provision is reasonably required by the learning difficulties and disabilities which result in the child or young person having SEN. This could include specialist support and therapies, such as medical treatments and delivery of medications, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy, a range of nursing support, specialist equipment, wheelchairs and continence supplies.
The Education, Health and Care plan will have to approved by the relevant health commissioning body, and if it is approved, the health service must ensure that the support set out in the EHC plan is made available.
As part of this process the Health Service needs to appoint a Designated Health Officer (DHO), an individual whose role is to ensure that the CCG is meeting its statutory responsibilities for SEN. The DHO might be an employee of a CCG, or an employee of an NHS Trust or other provider commissioned by a CCG, NHS England or a local authority, but they should have a level of expertise that allows them to carry out this role effectively.
What information and advice will be available to families as the reforms progress?
The Code of Practice says that local authorities must provide a service that gives families, including young people with SEN, information, advice and support. These services are to help young people with SEN get the services they need. For example, they should provide information and advice to help young people understand their legal rights and how to get access to local services.
What does the Bill say about the right of parents to request assessments?
The Bill states that parents have the right to request an Education, Health and Care Assessment.
What does the Bill say about compulsory mediation?
One of the clauses in the Children and Families Bill requires parents to be provided with information about mediation and then to consider whether or not they wish to take it up. Mediation itself will not be compulsory. In the draft SEND provisions, parents and young people were required to attend mediation before making an appeal to the Tribunal.
Do these changes relate to the whole of the UK?
No just to England. A bill entitled the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Bill was published in January, and introduces new measures relating to social care that will affect families
WHAT IS THE LOCAL OFFER ?
In September 2014 every Local Authority will be required to publish information about services they expect to be available in their area for children and young people from birth to 25 who have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEN) and also services outside of the area which they expect children and young people from their area will use. This will be known as the ‘Local Offer’. The Local Offer will put all the information about Education, Health and Care services, leisure activities and support groups in one place. It has two main purposes:
- To provide clear, comprehensive and accessible information about the support and opportunities that are available; and
- To make provision more responsive to local needs and aspirations.
- The Government says the Local Offer must be developed and reviewed in partnership with children and young people, parents and carers, and local services, including schools, colleges, health and social care agencies.
The Local Offer is a new way of providing information and should not simply be a
directory of existing services – an address and telephone numbers will not be sufficient
Who is it for?
The Local Offer is primarily designed for use by parent/carers of children and young people with SEN. However, it will also enable practitioners and professionals to see clearly which services are available in their local area and how and when they can be accessed.
How will it help me?
It will make it easier for you to find out what you need to know, making you less reliant on other people or word-of-mouth suggestions. All the services involved with the Local Offer will be asked to provide and maintain up-to-date information that can be easily accessed by the user. For instance, information might include who the service will suit, opening hours, accessibility, or costs. The Local Offer will also help you find the services that are nearest to you and most suitable for your child’s needs. There will be guidance to help you find out what you need to ask practitioners and professionals and how they can help you and your child or young person.
The Local Offer will also include information on giving feedback and raising issues and concerns and making a complaint.
What makes the Local Offer different?
The Local Offer is not simply a directory of information or a list of services available. It will provide all the information you need to help you identify suitable support, to increase your knowledge so you can make informed decisions about the resources needed to enable your child or young person with SEN to be able to participate, and to enjoy and achieve their goals.
It will include transparent information on access to services, any eligibility criteria, how decisions are made and who makes them. Families will know how they can get involved in decisions for their son or daughter and also how to become involved in strategic decision making and service planning.
The Local Offer will inform joint commissioning of services within Education, Health and Social Care and provide information to support parent carers and young people who have a personal budget. The content of the Local Offer will be jointly prepared with parent carers and children and young people. This will ensure that it is written and delivered in the most suitable way, so everyone can use and understand it.
The Local Offer will be clear and transparent so that you can see exactly what support is available to your family. It will also help parent/carers to feedback and challenge when they are concerned that their son or daughter isn’t receiving the right support to meet his/her needs or the provision they had been led to expect.
How do I get involved?
Sign Hi Say Hi will be running events over the next couple of months to provide feedback to the LAs of the information required in the Local Offer