Our attitude to SEN has always been the same: more should be done. With the government’s reformations due to be implemented in September, we look at what the changes will mean.
You only need to hear two words to incite a wince on most of our faces: government reformation. The pending reformation in the way SEN support is delivered in schools and colleges in England is no exception; bringing with it confusion for parents, young people, teachers and other education, health and care practitioners.
We believe it’s vital for all of those who will be affected by these changes to have as much of a head start on understanding the alterations as possible. Essentially, the idea is to identify emergent needs earlier and implement more cohesive and holistic support to those children and young people from 0 to 25 with SEN and disabilities. Additionally, there is a focus on greater parental and individual input regarding support.
The key points are set out below; followed by an analysis of the draft copy, issued in April.
Parents and pupils will have greater autonomy
Like Every Child Matters, the new approach is a person-centred approach.
Essentially meaning that since parents and, later, the pupils themselves have a greater understanding of what support works for them; they will have a say in provision offered. Parents and pupils will be asked to contribute to planning, by assessing their development within a framework.
In cases where it is deemed that a person does not have the mental capacity to participate in structuring their provision, normally the responsibility will fall to the parent. However, it must be assumed that anyone has the capacity unless proven otherwise, following strict criteria.
Statements are being phased out
Statements and LDAs are being replaced by an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC).
School Action Plans revised
School Action Plans and School Action Plus are being unified into a single, school-based category for identifying support needs. Termly intervention goals need to be set and monitored. Additional support given to any student needs to be documented.
Achievement for all – accountability
The driving force behind reformation is to ensure that all students are making personal progress. As such, there will need to be increased training and awareness of provisions within schools, since they have the most accountability.
Following the updated document being issued just before the Easter holidays, Tania Tirraoro from Special Needs Jungle questioned Stephen Kingdom, Deputy Director of SEN and Disability at the Department of Education, directly on the implications of the upcoming changes.
Below, we tease out the key concerns over the transitions to present a clearer understanding of what to expect.
Many of us query the transition process and what would happen if a statement application had been started in the summer term but either the process has not been completed or the statement not issued by 1st September.
Stephen Kingdom’s response stated that the local authority may continue to follow the existing process for issuing a statement where the process began before 1 September 2014.
2. When to apply
It will be open to a parent to request an assessment for a statement if it’s before 31 August 2014, after which they can request an assessment for an EHC plan. Until the official start of the reformations on 1 September 2014, local authorities remain under a duty to undertake LDAs for young people in their final year of school who are moving into further education.
However, EHC plans are more comprehensive and so a draft EHC will suffice to replace an LDA for young people with statements who are leaving school and moving to further education in 2014-15. This means that some schools are trialling EHC guidelines already in order to meet the criteria.
3. Independent Supporters/TAs
In theory, more students should have access to individual support from an independent supporter or TA. This is because families have the option to have access to their allocated funding and can request what it should be spent on.
Training towards an accreditation for Independent Supporters is currently being developed by the Council for Disabled Children (CDC). ISs will have skills and expertise in working with parents and young people, and in-depth experience and understanding of SEN and disability.
4. Holistic support
Currently, the NHS is increasingly looking to deliver more integrated care and the framework suggests a move to ensuring that services are communicating effectively; developing cohesion.
Stephen Kingdom said, “This is not about clinicians acting differently when seeing a child, but it might mean significant change to the way in which receiving care is co-ordinated around the child, or the way in which clinical practice is supported – your child might be seen in a different setting, for example, or he or she might be seen by fewer professionals, working together to meet the needs of your child as captured in the EHC plan.”
5. Medical Conditions
Statutory guidance for supporting children with medical conditions is being revised and is due to be released ‘very shortly’.