Children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) require extra or specific help in school or nursery in order to ensure that they are not at a disadvantage when compared with their peers.
This extra help can take many different forms, but includes things such as special learning programmes, extra help from a teacher or assistant, working in smaller groups, help communicating with others, and support with physical or personal care difficulties. All of these methods of support are designed to anticipate the requirements of children with SEN, eliminating discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity.
However, you may be aware that the way in which these special educational needs are identified, assessed and met in England has changed, due to a reform introduced the Children and Families Act on the 1st September 2014.
What are these reforms?
The key changes brought in by the Children and Families Act include:
- Statements of SEN will be replaced by Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans and are available to children and young people who need more support than is available through their school.
- EHC Plans will provide statutory protection for children and young people in education or training up until the age of 25, as opposed to 16.School
- Action/School Action Plus and Individual Education Plans (IEPs) no longer exist, and school based provision has been replaced by a single category, SEN support.
- Local authorities must publish a 'Local Offer' outlining the support that they will normally provide for children with SEN.
- Health services and local authorities must jointly commission and plan services for children, young people and their families.
- Children, young people and their families will have more say in the way they receive support.
The government has also released a new SEN Code of Practice, which provides detailed guidance for professionals working with children and young people with SEN.
What do these reforms mean for your child?
Overall, the SEN reforms mean three things:
- Children and young people will be placed at the centre of any plans for their provision, ensuring that they and their families are much more involved in the decisions that affect their lives.
- These decisions should be focussed on improving progress which supports the outcome that children, young people and their families want to achieve from their education.
- Agencies will work closer together in order to improve the experiences of children, young people and their families.
These new EHC Plans will be tailored to the individual, and will identify their educational, health and social needs. They will focus on their views, wishes and feelings, and will set out to provide the additional support necessary to enable them to achieve their goals.
If your child has an existing statement of special educational needs given before the 1st of September 2014, they will continue to receive their regular support whilst they're gradually brought under the new scheme, and this should happen by spring 2018.
SEN Reforms and London Speech Therapy.
Under the new system, children and young people with an EHC Plan will be able to hold a personal budget to buy in the support identified in their plan directly from providers such as London Speech Therapy. This will enable them access to the best treatment available instead of relying on their local authority. This money will come from the high-needs funding block and will not normally affect a school's SEN budget.
At London Speech Therapy, we work with 14 schools across London, providing consistent, cost effective and high quality Speech and Language Therapy, and we'd love to work with yours. For more information, visit our schools page.