The SEN System


sen_1Introduction

This information in this section is designed to help you to understand the extensive changes to special educational needs and disability [SEND] provision that were introduced in England in September 2014, and what these will mean for you and your child.

We’ve provided these notes to try to answer some of the questions you might have, and to help you to access the information and support required to make informed choices and decisions for your child. It’s a broad summary of our understanding of the main changes at this early stage; however, whilst we believe it to be factually accurate you should not place any legal reliance on any of the information provided, which is offered as guidance only.

Where known, details of service provision and contact details specific to Lincolnshire have been provided and are highlighted in yellow.  If the information you require is not shown here, or if you have any other general queries about SEND services in Lincolnshire, please email: SENDenquiries@lincolnshire.gov.uk or telephone 01522 550806.

Reforms are also taking place in Wales and Northern Ireland though the changes there are moving to a different timescale.


Background to the changes

In 2011 the Coalition Government announced plans to radically overhaul the education and health support for children with SEN in a bid to improve provision for the child. Its proposals were first published in March, 2011 in the form of a Green Paper, and a public consultation was launched.

Green Paper

A revised publication of the Government’s plans, setting out the progress in taking forward the Green Paper reforms was published in May [DfE, 2012] in its document ‘Support and Aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability – progress and next steps’.

The Government’s proposed changes included:

  • A single EHC assessment system, to replace Statements of SEN and the School Action and School Action Plus system, designed be more streamlined, quicker to process, and better involve children and young people from 0–25 and their families;
  • A requirement for local authorities to publish a Local Offer of available support, designed to improve provision for those with special educational needs and disabilities and their families;
  • The introduction of mediation opportunities for disputes and a trial giving children the right to appeal if they are unhappy with their support, and provide statutory protection for people with SEN in further education up to age 25.

Following a lengthy period of consultation and discussion involving a wide range of agencies and contributors, the new Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2014  was enacted by Parliament in August 2014 and came into force on 1 September 2014.  The new SEND Code of Practice can be viewed in full at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25.

The new SEND Code of Practice states that “All children and young people are entitled to an education that enables them to make progress so that they:

  • achieve their best;
  • become confident individuals living fulfilling lives; and
  • make a successful transition into adulthood, whether into employment, further or higher education or training.”

1. Summary

1.1 What’s changing?

Some of the key changes include:

  • Replacing the Statement of SEN with an Education, Health and Care Plan [often referred to as an ‘EHCP’];
  • Allowing young people with SEN up to the age of 19 to have an Education, Health and Care Plan and, in some cases, up to age 25;
  • Giving some parents and young people the option of a Personal Budget to purchase some elements of the SEN support needed;
  • Requiring local authorities to set out a ‘Local Offer’ of what support they expect to be available for children and young people with SEN and disabilities;
  • Changing the SEN Code of Practice, which sets out the government’s expectations on what local authorities, schools and other bodies should be doing to support children with SEN and disabilities;
  • New and explicit requirements around the involvement of children, young people and parents in decisions about provision for children and young people with SEN and disabilities;
  • Requiring education, social care and health services to work together to support children with SEN and disabilities through the ‘joint commissioning’ of services.

The changes start to come into force from the 1st September 2014.

Statements will be replaced by Education, Health and Care Plans over the next 3½ years. For some families, the ‘old’ SEN framework will be in place whilst for other families, the ‘new’ SEN framework will be in force.  This means that there is a risk of confusion and uncertainty in some areas. However, whichever framework applies, it is important to remember that your rights under both frameworks are broadly similar. The Government has been clear that the changeover to the new system should not lead to a reduction in support.

1.2 What do I need to do?

If your child currently has a Statement of Special Educational Needs or a Learning Difficulty Assessment [if over 16], your local authority should be in touch at some point about how this will be changed to an Education, Health and Care Plan. Local authorities are expected to move children and young people over in stages during the next 3½ years – so changes may not happen immediately. Local authorities are also expected to publish a ‘transition’ plan explaining their general approach to moving children and young people over to EHCPs. Section 4 of these notes provides more information about how we expect the transition to work.

It’s the responsibility of local authorities and schools to make these changes happen and they should be in touch with you if there is anything you need to do. They should also be letting local parents know more generally about what’s changing. In the meantime, you may find it useful to be aware of what’s changing and how it might impact on your child, so that you can be ready and so that your family can make the most of these changes.


2. Special Educational Needs and Disability [SEND] Code of Practice

2.1 Will the definition of SEN change?

There will be no significant changes to the definition of SEN. It will continue to be largely defined as those who:

  • Have a greater difficulty in learning than the majority of other children;
  • Have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided in the area.

The definition also applies to pre-school children.

The main change is around terminology for young people over 16. Currently, they are described as having ‘learning difficulties and disabilities’ and subject to a different framework. However, under the new proposals, they will be regarded as having special educational needs in the same way they would if they were under 16.

2.2 What will happen to the SEND Code of Practice?

The SEN and Disabilities Code of Practice sets out the current framework for how children with SEN will be supported – the new version takes effect from the 1st September 2014. It can be found online at:  www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25.

In Annex A [below], we set out a summary of what the new SEND Code of Practice says and where to find key information. The Department for Education has also published a parent guide to the SEND Code of Practice which is available online at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-guide-for-parents-and-carers.

2.3 What will happen to the current categories of School Action and School Action Plus?

These categories will be abolished and replaced with a single category called ‘SEN Support’. Children and young people should be transferred to this new category by September 2015. The new SEND Code of Practice outlines a ‘graduated approach’ for SEN support.

Under this approach, all early years and education providers must continue to use their ‘best endeavours’ to meet the special educational needs of dyslexic children and ensure that they have the support they need. They are expected to follow a process being called ‘assess, plan, do, review’. The need for high quality teaching is emphasised.

Schools are required to keep records of individual children’s progress which explain how they are monitoring and evaluating any SEN support provided. However, it is left to schools to decide how they will do this. There is no specific requirement to use ‘individual education plans’.

Regardless of these changes, education settings are still required to follow the Equality Act 2010 in meeting the needs of dyslexic children. This includes taking steps to proactively consider the needs of dyslexic children and young people, and making reasonable adjustments to ensure that they are not disadvantaged in their education. Education settings should not wait until a dyslexic child is falling behind before additional support is provided.


3. Education, Health and Care Plans

3.1 What is an Education, Health and Care Plan?

Education, Health and Care Plans [often referred to as an ‘EHC Plan’ or simply ‘EHCP’] will replace the Statement of SEN. The EHCP will also replace the Learning Difficulties Assessment [which applies in some post-16 settings]. The EHCP is a legal document, setting out the support that a child needs, in the same kind of way that a Statement does.

Prior to September 2014, children or young people beyond the age of 16 could only have a Statement if they were educated in a school. Under the new SEND Code of Practice, children or young people up to the age of 19 can have an EHCP providing that they remain in education or training [including apprenticeships]. In some cases, this can be extended up to age 25.

Young people who are going to university or become employed will not be eligible for an EHCP.

3.2 Who will get an Education, Health and Care Plan?

The Department for Education has said that any child or young person that currently has a Statement will have an EHCP. Any young person between the ages of 16 and 19 who currently has a Learning Difficulty Assessment may also have an EHCP. The Department for Education has been very clear that no child or young person should have their Statement or Learning Difficulty Assessment replaced by an EHCP simply because the system is changing.

Department officials have stated that the ‘trigger’ for the new EHCP will be education. This means that if a young person has a health or social care need, they will not get an EHCP unless these needs impact on their education.

3.3 How will the assessment work?

Section 9 of the new SEND Code of Practice sets out how the Department thinks that assessments should be carried out. Some of the key points made include:

  • The views of children, young people and their families must be sought and they must be involved during the assessment process;
  • Disruption to the family should be minimised. This includes avoiding multiple assessments and appointments. There should also be a ‘tell us once’ approach so that families do not have to repeat the same information to different professionals;
  • Families should be provided with impartial information, advice and support. In the case of young people over the age of 16, a separate service of impartial information, advice and support should be available to them. Young people should also be provided with an ‘advocate’ by the local authority to make sure that their views are heard and acknowledged;
  • The assessment process should be carried out in a ‘timely’ manner and it should not normally take longer than 20 weeks to issue an EHCP.

In Lincolnshire, to access an EHCP needs assessment parents, or the young person, should send their request to the local authority in the form of a letter or email:

To support parents and young people during the assessment process, Lincolnshire provides an Information, Advice and Support Service [IASS], formerly called the Parent Partnership Service.

The IASS works at ‘arm’s length’ to the Local Authority and Health Services, with independently trained staff.   ‘Arm’s length’ means; acting impartially without undue influence.

The IASS provides information, advice and support for all children/young people [0-25 years old] with SEND and their families, not just those with an Education Health and Care Plan.  Information, advice and support can be offered regarding the law related to SEND Education Health and Social Care law, including local policy and practice, the local offer and personal budgets.

The IASS offers support face-to-face, by telephone or online. It can also provide informal disagreement resolution if a family reaches a time when this more formal process is needed.

Advocacy

An advocate helps parents, children and young people to express their views and, if necessary, can represent and accompany them to meetings in a supportive role. They may write letters on behalf of an adult or young person, or speak on their behalf in situations where they feel unable to speak for themselves.

  • In Lincolnshire, for an advocate to support a young person up to 18yrs old, contact the National Youth Advocacy Service [NYAS] via www.nyas.net, email help@nyas.net, or the freephone helpline 0808 808 1001.
  • For an advocate to support to support a young person over 18yrs [and/or parents], contact Voiceability via www.totalvoicelincolnshire.org  or telephone  01522 706580.

3.4 What will an Education, Health and Care Plan look like?

Section 9 of the new SEND Code of Practice sets out how the Department expects local authorities to go about writing an Education, Health and Care Plan. Some of the key points made include:

  • EHCPs should be focused on the outcomes an individual child is expected to achieve. Any targets must be specific and set out what support is needed to achieve those outcomes;
  • EHCPs should be clear, concise and positive. They should also be free from jargon;
  • It should reflect the views of the child or young person.

Although the Department does not intend to put forward a set template or format for the new EHCP, it must include separate sections on:

  • The views, interests and aspirations of the child or young person and family [section A];
  • What the special educational need is [section B];
  • Any health needs relating to their SEN [section C];
  • Any social care needs relating to their SEN or disability [section D];
  • The outcomes sought for that individual child or young person [section E];
  • What support is needed for the child or young person’s SEN [section F];
  • What support is needed from health or social care services [sections G and H];
  • The name and type of school or other placement [section I];
  • Personal Budgets [see later for more information on Personal Budgets] [section J];
  • Advice and information gathered during the assessment [section K].

The new Code [after paragraph 9.69 on page 164] includes more information about what should go in each of these sections.

A blank EHCP template from the City of York Council can be viewed here. This is currently one of the only examples freely available, and is not necessarily representative of how EHCPs from other local authorities will look – although the content/layout should follow a broadly similar format across the country.

The EHCP can also include wider information about a child’s social care needs. If a child or young person has received a social care assessment under what is known as the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, then any support identified as needed under this assessment must be included in an EHCP. Other social care assessments can also feed into the EHCP, providing that it relates to the child’s special educational need. Steps should be taken to ensure sensitive information, including about particularly vulnerable children, is not disclosed more widely than it needs to be.

3.5 Who will prepare the Education, Health and Care Plans?

Local authorities are encouraged to adopt a ‘key working’ approach whereby the family has a single point of contact. A key worker’s role is usually to support the family by liaising with the different professionals involved in any assessments of the child and to co-ordinate everything.

In Lincolnshire, a SEND ‘key working’ service is provided by the Early Support Care  Co-ordination Service [ESCO].  This service provides a single point of contact for children/young people and parents to help co-ordinate early engagement and support of relevant services across education, health and care.  This service is for any child/young person with SEND and their families, with or without having an Education, Health and Care Plan in place.  Early Support is a way of working that helps to identify children/young people’s additional needs as early as possible.

The new SEND Code of Practice also indicates that families may, in addition, receive support from an ‘independent supporter’ from the voluntary or private sector. Independent supporters are intended to help families through the process, and would be someone who does not work for the local authority. The nature of the support provided is likely to vary from family to family. The Department has funded the Council for Disabled Children to ensure families have access to Independent Supporters across England.

Some more information about Independent Supporters is available on the Council for Disabled Children website at: www.councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/what-we-do/independent-support

3.6 How will an Education, Health and Care Plan be enforced?

Existing statutory rights will remain and, in many respects, you will be able to challenge an EHCP at a SEN and Disability Tribunal in the same way that you might challenge a Statement. You will also be able to challenge a local authority decision not to replace a Statement or Learning Difficulty Assessment with an EHCP. Annual reviews will continue as they do now.

One key change is that parents will be required to consider mediation if they would like to challenge a local authority at a SEN and Disability Tribunal. Once a parent has decided whether or not to undergo mediation, they can take a case to Tribunal but this can only happen after a ‘certificate’ has been issued by a mediation adviser to confirm that mediation was considered. Mediation can consider the health and social care aspects of an EHCP, as well as education.

The mediation or any discussions about it must be conducted with someone ‘independent’ from the local authority. The Department has been clear that any disputes must still be resolved within the same timescales, even where mediation takes place.

Mediation is not necessary if the appeal to Tribunal is about disability discrimination or about a dispute over whether a child should go to a particular school or placement.

Another key change is that, if you move, then the EHCP can be ‘transferred’ and the local authority in your new area will be required to provide the same support as in your previous home area. However, if your Statement requires your child to be placed in a certain school, this can be reviewed, particularly if you now live some distance from the school.

3.7 Will an Education, Health and Care Plan provide legal entitlements to speech and language therapy?

Currently, speech and language therapy can be treated as educational provision even though it is often provided by health services. Judges have agreed that speech and language therapy is vital for children with SEN. This is legally set out in ‘case law’.

The Department for Education has stated that this will continue to be the case. Where a health or social care service has the purpose of educating or training a child or young person, it must be regarded as special educational provision, even if it is not provided by an education service. This should mean that local authorities must legally ensure this is provided if it is set out in an EHCP.

More widely, there are no new direct powers against health services under the current proposals. However, the Department has set out a number of ways in which it expects health and education services to work together and ‘jointly commission’ the services that children with SEN need.

3.8 What will happen to an Education, Health and Care Plan when my child turns 16?

Under the new system, at age 16 your child will become responsible for their EHCP and local authorities are expected to engage directly with your child, unless they believe that your child does not have the ‘mental capacity’ to make informed decisions. The new Code recognises that many young people will still wish to involve their parents in any decisions on their EHCP. The Code also stresses that young people must receive the information, advice and support they need to participate in decisions about their EHCP.


4. Turning a Statement of SEN into an Education, Health and Care Plan

4.1 My child has a Statement of SEN. Will they get an Education, Health and Care Plan?

Most likely, yes. The Department for Education has said that all children who are eligible for a Statement of SEN should also be eligible for an Education, Health and Care Plan. The only cases where existing children and young people might not change over to an EHCP is if:

a] His/her needs have significantly changed.

b] Your child is no longer in education or training before the planned changeover.

No ‘new’ Statements can be issued after the 1st September 2014 [unless your child was already being assessed for one immediately before that date], and all Statements must be changed over to an Education, Health and Care Plan by April 2018.

4.2 My child has a Statement of SEN. When will this change over to an Education, Health and Care Plan?

Local authorities will have some flexibility for how they move children over to the new system. However, the Government has made it clear that they expect children and young people to move over at key ‘transition’ points.

In the below table, we summarise our understanding of what should happen:

Stage your child is atWhat Should Happen
Child is transferring from early years setting to school, i.e. going into reception year [including staying in the same institution] from September 2015.Local authority must transfer your child to the new arrangements [i.e. an EHC Plan] before he/she moves to the school.
Child is transferring from infants to juniors from September 2015.as above.
Child is transferring from primary to middle school from September 2015.as above.
Young person is in Year 11 from 01/09/2014 onwards and moving to a post-16 institution or apprenticeship.Local authority must transfer him/her to the new arrangements.
Young person is in Year 11 from 01/09/14 onwards and staying in school.Local authority will be expected to transfer him/her to the new arrangements.
Child is transferring from primary to secondary school in September 2015.Local authority will be able to consider whether to transfer children in Year 6 but must take into account the families’ wishes.
Child is transferring from primary to secondary school from September 2016 onwards.Local authority must transfer them to the new arrangements before the move to secondary.
Child is transferring from middle to secondary school from September 2016 onwards.As above.
Child is in Year 9 in the academic year 2014-2015.Local authority will be expected to transfer them to new arrangements in Year 9.
Child is in Year 9 from September 2015.Local authority must transfer them to new arrangements in Year 9.

Local authorities are expected to publish ‘transition plans’ which set out how they will move over children and young people with statements to Education, Health and Care Plans over the next 3½ years. These should be available on your local authority website by 1 September 2014.

The Department for Education has published guidance on how the changeover should happen at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-managing-changes-to-legislation-from-september-2014

4.3 How will the changeover happen?

Local authorities should carry out a transfer review for each child/young person being moved. This will take the place of an annual review. The young person and parent must be invited to this transfer review.

This will involve an assessment of your child’s needs under the new framework. Local authorities are expected to avoid asking for information that they already have. The transfer review will conclude when you have been issued with a final Education, Health and Care Plan to replace the Statement.

During this period, your rights to appeal [if you are not happy with the EHCP] remain and are similar to those that are in place already in relation to Statements.

4.4 My child was being assessed for a Statement just before the 1st September 2014. Will they now get an Education, Health and Care Plan?

This depends on the local authority. The local authority can now treat this as an assessment for an Education, Health and Care Plan, with your agreement. However, they do not have to and, particularly if the assessment process is at a late stage, they may still issue a Statement instead.

4.5 I don’t want to wait. Can my child get an Education, Health and Care Plan sooner?

You can ask the local authority to carry out a transfer review. Your local authority may agree to move your child to an Education, Health and Care Plan sooner. However, they do not have to. The Government has said that it’s for local authorities to decide when the changeover happens and parents or young people do not have any legal rights to make this happen sooner.

If your child’s needs have changed, then you still have the right to request a re-assessment of their needs. Hopefully, the local authority will agree to carry out a transfer review. However, again they do not have to. Instead, they can choose to carry out a re-assessment with reference to the ‘old’ SEN laws around Statements.

Even if the local authority does not agree to changeover your child to an Education, Health and Care Plan, they will still have to follow the ‘old’ SEN framework. Existing rights and protections will remain in place until your child moves to the new system.

4.6 What happens if my child already had an Education, Health and Care Plan before the 1st September 2014?

Many of these existing ‘pilot’ Education, Health and Care Plans were made before the Government had made a final decision on what they should look like. The Government has therefore said that existing Plans should be checked to make sure that they meet the new laws and requirements. This should happen relatively soon after September 2014 and before August 2015.


5. Turning a Learning Difficulty Assessment [‘LDA’] into an Education, Health and Care Plan

5.1 My young person has a Learning Difficulty Assessment. How will the changeover happen?

In section 4, we outlined how the changeover from statements to Education, Health and Care Plans will work. Much of the same also applies to the changeover from Learning Difficulty Assessments to EHCPs. The main difference is that the changeover period is shorter. All Learning Difficulty Assessments [LDAs] should be transferred by 1st September 2016.


6. Personal Budgets

6.1 What is a Personal Budget?

A Personal Budget is an amount of money that has been identified by the local authority to deliver SEN provision where the parents or young person is to be involved in making sure that provision is provided.

There are four different ways in which a Personal Budget can be managed:

1] ‘Direct payments’ whereby parents and young people are given funding directly to spend;

2] ’Notional arrangements’ whereby the local authority, school or college holds the funding and commissions the support needed on behalf of the parent or young person;

3] Third party arrangements whereby the funding is held by a third party who handles the funding on behalf of the parent;

4] A combination of the above.

6.2 Who can have a Personal Budget?

Only where an Education, Health and Care Plan is in place will a parent or young person over 16 be able to have a Personal Budget. A Personal Budget can be requested by a parent or a young person over 16 once the local authority has agreed it will issue an Education, Health and Care Plan or during the annual review process.

Local authorities must consider requests for Personal Budgets. However, there are exceptions that mean they do not always have to provide Personal Budgets. For example:

  • Local authorities do not have to provide Personal Budgets if they are concerned it will negatively impact on other people or will be poor value for money. It is possible, for example, that some local authorities will argue that allowing Personal Budgets may reduce the funding they have available to support other families;
  • Local authorities are required to judge if a young person or family is ‘capable’ of managing a Personal Budget;
  • Young people or families who have been required by the law to undergo treatment for drug or alcohol abuse will not be allowed to have a Personal Budget;
  • Where a child or young person is in custody, a Personal Budget is not permitted.

6.3 Will my child/young person have to have a Personal Budget?

No – it will be entirely optional. Local authorities must provide families with information to understand what a Personal Budget will involve and how it can be used. This should be set out in the ‘Local Offer’ for each area. Section 7 of these notes has more information about what the Local Offer is.

6.4 What will my child/young person be able to buy with a Personal Budget?

This will be set out in the Education, Health and Care Plan – a Personal Budget can only be used for provision that has been set out in the EHCP.

Separately, where provision is being purchased for use within a school or a college, the Department has stated that their consent must first be sought. The Department has also stated that Personal Budgets cannot be used to purchase a place at a particular school.

The new Code states that local authorities should, through their Local Offer, have a clear policy in place setting out what services currently “lend themselves” to the use of Personal Budgets.

6.5 How much money will my child/young person be able to get through a Personal Budget?

The new SEND Code of Practice states that local authorities must ensure that families who choose the option of direct payments actually have enough money to purchase what has been agreed. Beyond this, the amount of money that a family will get will depend on the individual case and what has been set out in the Education, Health and Care Plan.

Local authorities can give indicative figures when a Personal Budget is being considered but the total amount of money should only be finalised when the EHCP is being agreed.

6.6 Will my child/young person receive any help in spending a Personal Budget?

Local authorities must provide information about organisations that can provide advice and assistance regarding Personal Budgets. This should be included in their Local Offer.

  • Lincolnshire County Council states that independent support and advice about Personal Budgets can be sought from Penderels Trust at www.penderelstrust.org.uk  or telephone 0845 606 0331.

Parents or young people will have to sign an agreement with the local authority over the use of direct payments. It is important to be aware that the local authority can ask the parent or young person to pay back any money that has been unspent if, for example, it feels that the direct payment has not been spent as intended or if it suspects that fraud has taken place.


7. The Local Offer

7.1 What is the Local Offer?

Local authorities will be required to publish a ‘Local Offer’. A Local Offer is intended to provide information about provision it expects to be available to children with SEN and disabilities in their area.

The Department has also said that local authorities must keep their local provision under review. It is hoped that local authorities will use the Local Offer to identify where there are gaps in provision and listen to families about what needs to change.

7.2 What will the Local Offer include?

Section 4 of the new SEND Code of Practice states that the Local Offer must include information about:

  • Special educational provision available within the area, including resource provisions and special schools;
  • Specialist provision outside of your area where this is being used by local children with SEN;
  • Information about how parents and young people can request an assessment for an Education Health and Care Plan;
  • Details of teaching approaches, how the curriculum will be adapted, arrangements for assessment and monitoring, how effectiveness will be measured, extra-curricular activities and so on;
  • Arrangements for identifying SEN;
  • Opportunities for apprenticeships and training;
  • Health care provision. This includes speech and language therapy and mental health services;
  • Social care provision;
  • Childcare provision, including provision suitable for disabled children and those with SEN;
  • Transport;
  • Where families can get information and advice about SEN and disability from other sources, including forums and support groups;
  • How to make a complaint;
  • Any eligibility criteria for any provision set out in Local Offer.

The Local Offer should also signpost to information provided by schools on their arrangements for pupils with SEN.

> Helpful information provided in the Local Offer relating to dyslexia could include:

Internal Support

  • Information about schools’ dyslexia provision e.g. if they have a dyslexia quality kite mark which shows evidence of their dyslexia-friendly practices and commitment to inclusive practices;
  • Whether the school has teachers with specialist teacher status or training, a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma in Dyslexia and Literacy, or a British Sign Language [BSL] qualification;
  • Schools may engage with the Literacy and Dyslexia-SpLD Professional Development Framework, a free, easy to use online tool that provides information needed across the education workforce, to support learners with dyslexia.

External Support

  • Information about additional authority-wide support and advice available from the voluntary, private and independent sectors. Examples should include: national organisations such as Dyslexia Action, whose specialist teachers and support centres provide additional help to children, young people and their families with specific learning difficulties including dyslexia; and CReSTeD – the Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils – which categorises the levels of provision within schools to help match them to the level of pupil need.
  • In Lincolnshire, local information and specialist support is also provided by Dyslexia Lincs [www.dyslexialincs.org.uk].

7.3 How can I get involved in shaping the Local Offer?

Local authorities are required to consult with both parents and young people with SEN and disabilities when setting up their Local Offer. Local authorities have to consider whether local provision meets the needs of families and whether they need to take steps to improve their ‘offer’.

It is likely that many local authorities will initially turn to parent carer forums to do this.  Parent carer forums are groups of parents of children with SEN and disabilities who work with local service providers to make sure the needs of children with SEN and disabilities are met. The National Network of Parent Carer Forums has more information about these forums: www.nnpcf.org.uk/.

  • The Lincolnshire Parent Carer Forum represent parents and carers of children and young people with disabilities in Lincolnshire, and works alongside the local authority, education, health and other service providers to help develop services to meet the needs of children and families in the county.  The Lincolnshire Parent Carer Forum can be contacted via www.lincspcf.org.uk  or telephone 0845 3311310.

The Department has also said that local authorities will be required to publish comments made by parents and young people about its Local Offer. Any comments must be published anonymously. This may give parents the opportunity to tell the local authority and other parents if they think something is missing from the Local Offer or is not being provided. Every year, the local authority must respond to comments and set out what action it plans to take in response.

7.4 Is the Local Offer enforceable?

No. Although, local authorities will be required to draft a Local Offer, they do not have to ensure that everything within the Local Offer is actually provided. If a parent or young person was unhappy about any aspect of the Local Offer, they would be able to complain. However, there is no direct legal requirement on the local authority to provide what’s in the Local Offer.

7.5 Where can I find the Local Offer for my area?

Local Offers should be available on your local authority website, once they have been published. Initial Local Offers must be published by September 2014. It is expected that Local Offers will be developed and improved over time.


8. Choosing a school or college

8.1 What’s changing?

As is currently the case with Statements, the application and admissions process will differ, depending on whether or not your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan. Children without an EHCP will follow the usual applications/admissions route, about which your local authority should provide information.

All schools are bound by the Equality Act 2010 and will therefore have to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that all children’s special educational needs are met, even if your child does not have an EHCP.

For children who have an EHCP, under current proposals, parents will have a right to name any state funded school [including academies and free schools] or Further Education college in the new EHCP.

Parents will also have a right to name certain non-maintained or independent special schools or specialist colleges in their EHCP. The Department for Education will develop a list of independent special schools that can be named. Parents will not have a right to name an independent school that does not cater specifically for children with SEN.

If your local authority agrees to a placement that is further away than a more local school, it is important to be aware that the local authority may not have to meet your travel costs.

In previous years, it has been unclear how the SEN Code of Practice applies to academies, which are independent, state-funded schools. Under the current changes, all academies will have to follow all laws on SEN in the same way as other maintained schools.

8.2 What happens if my preference is not met?

It appears that the process will be largely similar to what happens now. As now, local authorities will have to agree to a placement unless they feel it would be an inefficient use of their resources or if it would have a negative impact on other pupils at that school. If you disagree with the local authority, you will be able to make a request for the case to be considered by a SEN and Disability Tribunal.


9. If things go wrong…

9.1 I have a general complaint about special education provision. What can I do?

The local authority, education provider or health provider must work with you to try to resolve the disagreement. The local authority must also ensure that parents and young people have access to an independent disagreement resolution service. The Local Offer should provide details of this service and how you can make use of it if there is anything you’re not happy about.

  • In Lincolnshire, this service can be accessed via Together Trust – www.togethertrust.org.uk  or telephone 0161 283 4836.

Whether or not you use a disagreement resolution service is completely optional.

9.2 My child has a Statement and I’m not happy about what’s in it. What can I do?

Existing rights of appeal remain as they are now.

9.3 My child has an Education, Health and Care Plan [or is being assessed for one] and I’m not happy about the section on education. What can I do?

Your rights of appeal remain similar to what’s currently in place for those with Statements. The main change is that you will be required to consider mediation before progressing your complaint to a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

Mediation is optional. However, you will need to let a mediation advisor know that you do not wish to undergo mediation before you can progress your complaint.

Mediation is not necessary if the appeal to Tribunal is about disability discrimination or about a dispute over whether a child should go to a particular school or placement.

9.4 My child has an Education, Health and Care Plan [or is being assessed for one] and I’m not happy about the sections on health or social care. What can I do?

If the health or social care needs relates to your child’s SEN, then you can still complain against the local authority, as set out earlier in 9.3. This is because the local authority is still responsible for special educational provision.

However, if your complaint is about wider health or social care provision, then you need to pursue the complaint separately. These complaints cannot be taken to a Tribunal.

You can still ask for support from a disagreement resolution service or mediation with the health or social care provider to try and resolve the complaint.

9.5 My complaint is about something else. What can I do?

Section 11 [page 232 onwards] of the new SEND Code of Practice has more information about the different ways you can make a complaint, depending on what the complaint is about.


More information about SEN reform:

  • You can also visit the IPSEA [Independent Parental Special Education Advice] website for more detailed information about the changes: www.ipsea.org.uk/

Annex A: The new Code of Practice at a glance – where to find the key paragraphs:

SEN Support

  • School Action and School Action Plus are now merged. Schools should follow an “assess, plan, do, review” cycle, involving external professionals where necessary. [Paras. 5.38, 6.44]

Individual Education Plans [IEPs]

  • No requirement to produce an IEP, but “Schools should particularly record details of additional or different provision….A local authority that is considering or carrying out a statutory assessment of the pupil’s needs, will wish to review such information.” [Para. 6.73]

Requesting a statutory assessment

  • An assessment can be requested by parents [or their advocate], young person aged 16+ [or their advocate], early years practitioners, schools, post-16 institutions and many others, including foster carers and health and social care professionals. [Para. 9.8]
  • Evidence will need to be gathered about the nature and extent of the child’s SEN, evidence of the action already being taken to meet the SEN, evidence that where progress has been made, it is only as a result of much additional effort and support at a sustained level over and above that which is usually provided. [Para. 9.14]
  • Local authorities must inform parents of their decision [whether or not to assess] within six weeks of the request and must give reasons for the decision.  [Para. 9.17]

Education Health and Care Plans

  • Local authorities must give parents and young people 15 days to consider draft and give views and ask for a particular school/other institution to be named. [Para. 9.41]
  • EHCPs should be clear, concise, understandable and accessible to parents, child/young person and providers/practitioners. [Para. 9.61]
  • Must be evidence-based and focus on how best to achieve outcomes.
  • No set format, but must include the following lettered sections in any order:

a] views, interests and aspirations of the child/young person and their parents;

b] description of SEN;

c] child/young person’s health  needs related to SEN;

d] child/young person’s social care needs related to SEN;

e] outcomes sought for child/young person, including outcomes for adult life;

f] special educational provision required;

g] any health provision reasonably required by the learning difficulty or disability [LDD] which result in the child/young person having SEN;

h1] any social care provision which must be made for a child/young person under 18 resulting from section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970;

h2] any other social care provision reasonably required by the LDD which result in the child/young person having SEN. Includes adult social care provision being made to meet eligible needs under care Act 2014;

i] name and type of school;

j] details of Personal Budget if parents/young person have opted for this;

k] advice and information gathered during assessment [appendices]. [Paras. 9.62-9.69]

Reviewing an Education, Health and Care Plan

  • First review must be within 12 months of the date of issue of the EHCP. [Para. 9.166]
  • For children under 5, local authorities should consider reviewing an EHCP at least every 3 to 6 months. This would complement the duty to review at least annually and such reviews may be streamlined, depending on the needs of the child. [Para. 9.178]
  • Parents/young person, school or other institution, local authority SEN officer, health representative and local authority social care representative must be invited and given at least 2 weeks’ notice. [Para. 9.176]
  • School must seek advice and information prior to the meeting from all parties invited, and send it to all invited at least 2 weeks before the meeting. [Para. 9.176]
  • School must send report of meeting to all invited within 2 weeks of the meeting. [Para. 9.176]
  • Within 4 weeks of the review meeting, the local authority must decide whether it will keep the EHCP as it is, amend it or cease to maintain it and notify the parents/young person and school or other institution. [Para. 9.176]
  • From Year 9 onwards, review must consider what provision is required to assist in preparing for adulthood and independent living. [Para. 9.184]

Amending an Education, Health and Care Plan

  • If a local authority proposes to amend an EHCP, it must send the parent or young person a copy of the existing [non-amended] EHCP and an accompanying notice with details of the proposed amendments and copies of evidence to support them, and must give parents/young person 15 days to comment. [Paras. 9.193-9.198]

Ceasing an Education, Health and Care Plan

  • Local authorities may cease to maintain an EHCP when any of the following apply: the local authority is not longer responsible for the child or young person [e.g. child has moved to another local authority]; it decides that special educational provision is no longer needed; a young person aged 16+ starts paid employment [including employment with training but not apprenticeships]; the young person goes into Higher Education; the young person aged 18+ leaves education and no longer wishes to engage in further learning; or they wish to continue in learning but the local authority believes maintaining a plan is not appropriate. [Para. 9.194]
  • Local authorities must not simply cease to maintain an EHCP once a young person is 18 or over. [Paras. 9.199-9.204]

Naming an education provider

  • Children must be educated in accordance with their parents’ wishes so long as this is compatible with the efficient education of others and does not entail unreasonable expenditure. [Paras. 9.78-9.94]

Personal Budgets

  • Parents or young people over 16 can request a Personal Budget [funding to buy services or support set out in the EHCP based on clear agreed outcomes] when the EHCP is written or at annual review. [Paras. 9.95 -9.124]

Transport

  • Current principles will still apply: if parents’ or child/young person’s preferred place is further away than nearest available place to meet needs, the local authority is not obliged to provide transport to place further away. Could either name nearer school or name further one and ask parents to pay all or part of transport costs. [Para. 9.214]

Resolving disputes

  • Local authorities must make independent disagreement resolution services available, but use of the service is voluntary. Disagreement resolution can help resolve, or prevent from escalating, non-Tribunal matters [e.g. failure to make provision as set out in a Plan]. [Para. 11.6]
  • This is different to mediation, which applies specifically to parents or young person who are considering appealing to the Tribunal [only some types of appeal]. [Paras. 11.5-11.13]
  • Mediation services must also be independent of the local authority. [Para. 11.15]
  • Mediation aims to enable appeals to be settled more quickly and amicably. Parents and young person must contact a mediation adviser before registering an appeal about education/health/care needs assessments or the SEN element of an EHCP. [Para. 11.5]
  • If parents want to go to mediation, the local authority must attend. [Para. 11.26]
  • Mediation can also be used for health and social care elements of a plan.  No tribunal for these elements. [Paras.11.31-11.37]