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Key Aspects of the SEND Reforms - Summary of Changes and What Parents Should Expect

The Government has recently introduced a major transformation of the way services for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are delivered. Some of the key changes are outlined below.

Replacing Statements of SEN with Education, Health & Care Plans

One of the major changes introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014 is the replacement of the current Statement system with new Education, Health and Care plans (EHCP). EHCP will also be extended to young people aged 25 to support young people into adulthood.

Personal Budgets

Parents with an EHC Plan will have the right to a personal budget for their support.  A personal budget is an amount of money provided to the family to enable them to directly purchase all or some of the provision set out in their EHC plan. By having a say in the way this budget is used, a parent or young person can control elements of their support.

Services Working Together

Children and young people with SEN need well coordinated, coherent support across education, health and social care to help them achieve their agreed outcomes. Under the new Act, Local Authorities and other key agencies will be required to link up and jointly plan services for disabled children and young people - an approach known as joint commissioning.

Birth to 25

The Act will extend the SEN system from birth to 25, which will support young people into further education, employment and independent living.

Local Offer

Every council will be required to publish a detailed directory of what local support there is available for children and young people with SEND – called the Local Offer. The Local Offer will provide clear and accurate information about local education, health and care services, making it easier to choose and access the services you need. Read more about the Local Offer here.

Engaging Parents, Children and Young People

Local authorities must ensure that parents, children and young people are involved in discussions and decisions about every aspect of their care and support, planning outcomes and agreeing services & activities to meet those outcomes. They must also take steps to ensure that parents and/or young people are actively involved in contributing to assessments, planning and reviewing EHC plans.  In addition, Early Years providers, schools and colleges should fully engage parents and/or young people with SEN when drawing up the plans policies that affect them.

Resolving Disputes

Local authorities must make clear how disagreements will be resolved and how complaints will be dealt with. It is recommended that local authorities commission an independent disagreement resolution services that will be available to parents and young people

Further Information

SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years. Statutory guidance from Department of Education.


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