Temporary Changes to SEND Legislation
You may be aware that the Government have recently enacted temporary changes to SEND legalisation during the current pandemic. This is because they recognise that LAs and schools cannot continue “business as usual” at the present time.
This document sets out how Redbridge will continue to make the best provision we can for children with SEND.
The changes to SEND legislation are temporary. Only those aspects of the law relating to the duty to secure or arrange provision, and most of the timescales, have changed.
The duty to secure or arrange provision in an EHC plan has been changed to ‘reasonable endeavours’.
Local authorities and health bodies must consider for each child and young person with an EHC plan what they can reasonably provide in the circumstances during this notice period. For some individuals, this will mean that the provision specified in their plan can continue to be delivered; but for others (because of the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on local authorities or health commissioning bodies) the provision may need temporarily to be different to that which is set out in their EHC plan.
The duty on early years providers, schools and colleges to co-operate with the local authority remains in place.
Redbridge local authority will still:
- consider requests for a new EHC needs assessment
- secure all of the required advice and information before it can issue a plan
- have regard to the views and wishes of a child, the child’s parent3 or a young person
- Issue Plans as soon as possible, although the timescale may need to be extended beyond 20 weeks.
The LA will continue to communicate clearly as to:
- what provision will be secured for each child and young person and the reason for any difference from what is specified in the EHC plan
- when decisions will be made as part of the various processes relating to EHC needs assessments and plans
In deciding what provision must be secured or arranged in discharge of its modified s42 duty, the local authority and health commissioning body will consider:
- the specific local circumstances (workforce capacity, temporary closures of education settings, social distancing guidance and other demands of the outbreak)
- the needs of and specific circumstances affecting the child or young person
- the views of the child, young person and their parents over what provision might be appropriate
The local authority or health commissioning body will keep a record of the provision it decides it must secure or arrange.
We will then:
- confirm to the parents or young person what it has decided to do and explain why the provision for the time being differs from that in the plan
- keep under review whether the provision we are securing or arranging means that it is still complying with the reasonable endeavours duty, recognising that the needs of a child or young person may change over time (particularly in the current circumstances) as may the availability of key staff or provision
Where the needs of the child and young person may have changed, it may be necessary for the us to conduct an early review of the EHC plan.
The timescales in the Regulations are being amended in relation to:
- the handling of requests for EHC needs assessments, decisions whether to issue plans and the preparation and issue of plans
- annual reviews of plans
- the processes where there is a change of local authority or health commissioning body for a plan
- the process for a local authority reviewing for the first time the making and use of direct payments from a Personal Budget that is part of an EHC plan.