The Children and Families Act (March 2014) aims to reform the way children and young people access Educational, Health and Care services with changes to the system of identification and support for those with Special Educational Needs, including dyslexia and related Specific Learning Difficulties. The Act will be implemented in stages starting in September 2014.
The current system of Statements of Special Educational Need will be replaced by a new Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC). Existing Statements cover school years up to the age of 16 years; however under the new legislation, support will be available from pre-school up to 25 years where a young person is in education or training. This will ensure continuing support from school to further education, (support at Higher Education is covered by a separate system).
Those eligible for EHC Plans, or their parents or carers, will have the right to access a personal budget to fund the specialist services they require.
Under the new legislation, Local Authorities are required to publish detailed information of the support available in their area. This is known as the ‘Local Offer’ and provision may vary according to local need.
Ofsted inspections will include identification and support for children with SEN
SEND Code of Practice.
Schools will have a ‘duty to identify, assess and make special educational provision for all children and young people with SEND, whether or not they have an EHC plan’.
School Action and School Action Plus will be replaced by a graduated response to identifying, addressing and evaluating special educational needs provision.
Details of the new Code of Practice are expected shortly.
The SpLD-Dyslexia Trust offers Guidance relating to the new system of SEN support.
What is in the Act?
The Act responds to concerns parents carers have raised about the SEND system over the last few years. It includes some key principles to improve parent carers experiences. These include:
More Participation: the Act includes new responsibilities on local authorities and others to make sure parent carers and young people are much more involved in decisions that affect their lives. It also makes clear that local authorities and health partners should work with parent carers and young people to improve services across their local area for example through the parent carer forums.
Better Outcomes: the Act requires education, health and social care services to look at how they support children and young people in a way that improves progress and supports the outcomes they want and need in their lives.
Better joint working: the Act requires services that families use, in particular education, health and social care to work more closely together and commission services together. This should improve the experiences of children, young people and their parent carers.
Special Educational Needs and Disability(SEND) Code of Practice 2001.
The current SEND Code of Practice for England and Wales came into effect on January 1st 2002 and takes account of the provisions of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001. The Code of Practice sets out the way schools and Local Authorities should provide extra support to meet children’s special educational needs.
Contacts for advice and support on Special Educational Needs: