Policy

Increasing options and improving provision for children with special educational needs (SEN)

Issue

Children and young people who are identified as having special educational needs (SEN) can struggle to get the support they need to do well. It can often take too long for their families to find out that their child needs extra help. Also, the system of support available to children and young people with SEN is very complex, with teachers, health workers and social care workers often working separately to meet the particular needs of a child or young person.

We want to deal with the problems that prevent children and young people with SEN from getting the support and services they need. We want to make sure they all have the same opportunities as everyone else and that they receive the necessary support to transition well into adulthood. We will introduce a more effective, transparent and accountable system of support for children and young people with SEN.

Actions

To improve the support system for children and young people with SEN and their families, we will:

  • introduce a single assessment process for education, health and care and include parents of children and young people with SEN in the assessment process
  • replace SEN statements and learning difficulty assessments with an education, health and care plan for children and young people with SEN aged 0 to 25 years
  • introduce the option of personal budgets for young people and parents of children and with SEN so they can choose which services are best for their family
  • make sure local commissioners work together in the interest of children and young people with SEN and improve communication between institutions and services
  • run a series of trials covering 31 local authorities to test the SEN green paper reforms and use the outcomes to revise regulations and the SEN code of practice

To improve educational provision for pupils with SEN, we will:

  • make sure all state-funded schools and colleges, including maintained schools, free schools and academies, are fully brought into the support system for children with SEN
  • fund degree-level specialist training for talented support staff working with children with SEN
  • give young people with SEN in further education and training similar rights and protections as those for children with SEN under 16
  • put in place supported internships, an employer-based study programme designed to help young people with SEN learn the skills they need for the workplace

Background

On 10 December 2010, we asked parents, charities, teachers and local authorities to contribute to the government’s SEN green paper. The aim was to find ways to identify the needs of children and young people earlier, make it easier for families to receive the support they need, and develop fairer and more transparent funding arrangements.

The publication of the green paper ‘Support and aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability’ on 11 March 2011 marked the start of a period of consultation and testing of the proposals in local areas. On 21 September 2011 we introduced 20 schemes to test the reforms in 31 different local authorities.

As a result of the green paper consultation, we published the report ‘Support and aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability - progress and next steps’ in May 2012. The report set out the progress made on the SEND green paper proposals and outlined the next steps to follow.

Who we’ve consulted

The call for views ‘Green paper: children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities’ was open from 10 September to 15 October 2010. The responses we received contributed to the proposals set out in the SEND green paper.

We ran a formal consultation following the publication of the green paper. The consultation ‘Support and aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability’ ran from 11 March to 30 June 2011. We sought the views of all those with an interest in SEND and received 2,378 responses, including many from parents.

On 4 October 2013, we launched a consultation on:

  • the draft SEN code of practice
  • the regulations associated to the new SEN code of practice
  • the arrangements we should put in place to replace SEN statements and learning difficulty assessments with a single education, health and care plan for children and young people with SEN

The consultation will close on 9 December 2013.

Bills and legislation

In February 2013, we introduced a Children and Families Bill to make the changes to the law that are required for the green paper reforms. The bill sets out the duties for all the agencies involved in providing services for children and young people with SEN.

In March 2013, we published indicative draft regulations and draft guidance, called a code of practice, to provide more detail about how the law will work in practice. We launched a consultation on the regulations and a full draft code of practice on 4 October 2013. We expect to introduce these in September 2014.

Who we’re working with

We are working with a range of organisations, including the Council for Disabled Children. They are developing and sharing the voluntary sector’s expertise in supporting children and young people with SEND and their families.

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