The Department for Education has today (17 December 2014) announced it will invest a further £31.7 million in 2015 to 2016 to help local authorities in England continue to meet the costs of implementing the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) reforms.
Children and Families Minister, Edward Timpson, said:
Our reforms put children and parents right at the heart of the system. We’re on the beginning of a journey to provide simpler, improved and consistent help.
Local councils have made a strong start in implementing these life-changing reforms, but we want to give them more help to take delivery to the next level.
The timescale has always been for them to bring children into the new system over the next 3 years - this extra money will help them to do that.
Edward Timpson has today also invited Ofsted to formally inspect local areas on their effectiveness in fulfilling their new duties. They will do this along with the Care Quality Commission and a local authority officer.
It is hoped that robust and rigorous inspections will ensure that parents and young people receive as much information as possible about what is being offered.
In England 1 in 5 children has SEND, ranging from dyslexia to a physical impairment. The government’s reforms will enable them and their parents to have a role in shaping the support they receive.
The SEND code of practice requires local authorities, health bodies, schools, maintained early education settings and colleges to carry out statutory duties for children and young people with SEND.
The reforms extend provision from birth to 25 years of age. This will give families greater choice in decisions and ensure needs are properly met.
The new system extends rights and protections to young people by introducing a new Education, Health and Care plan. Professionals will also provide more tailored support to families, giving them the help and assistance they need.
The Department for Education has also worked with Mencap to publish today for the first time easy-read guides for young people with SEND and their parents that explain the reforms to the system.
Dean Meuleman, who works for Mencap and has a learning difficulty, said:
Easy-read is one way of making information easier to understand and use. It uses simple words, short sentences, bullet points and pictures. All these things help people with a learning disability understand important information. It can make a real difference to people’s lives.
The changes to the law on SEND will affect parents and young people with a learning disability. They have a right to understand these changes and how they will impact them directly.
I hope that these new easy-read guides will help people with a learning disability to make the best choices and decisions for themselves.
Further information and links to the guides are available on the Mencap website.
Notes to editors
Read about SEND implementation grant allocations by local authority.
As well as the £37.1 million to help local authorities implement the SEND changes, the government is also today giving authorities details of their dedicated schools grant allocations for next year, which will include an extra £47 million. Read Dedicated schools grant 2015 to 2016 for further information.
Councils are required to publish a ‘local offer’ showing the support available to all disabled children and young people and their families in the area. Since the reforms went live in September, all local authorities have published local offers and 94% of parent carer forums say they feel engaged with the reforms.
The additional funds build on the £45.2 million funding for 2014 to 2015 and the earlier special educational needs reform grant of £70 million.
The money will support local authorities to transfer children and young people with SEN statements and learning difficulty assessments to new education, health and care (EHC) plans in an ordered way.
All children and young people with statements will be transferred to EHC plans by April 2018.
The government is providing more than £2 million for parent carer forums. We have invested £30 million in recruiting independent supporters so families who are new to the system can get help.
The parents’ guide to the code has been downloaded over 42,000 times.
The new system will extend rights and protection to young people by introducing a new birth to 25 education, health and care plan. Professionals will also provide more tailored support to families, giving them the help and assistance they need.
The new package of ambitious changes transforming the support on offer came into force in September. The new system will:
- replace SEND statements and learning disability assessments with a new birth-to-25 education, health and care plan - setting out in one place all the support families will receive
- require better co-operation between councils and health services to make sure services for children and young people with SEND and disabilities are jointly planned and commissioned
- give parents and young people with education, health and care plans the offer of a personal budget - putting families firmly in charge
- introduce mediation for disputes and trial giving children and young people the right to appeal if they are unhappy with their support
- introduce a new legal right for children and young people with an education, health and care plan to express a preference for state academies, free schools and further education colleges - currently limited to maintained mainstream and special schools