Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Government publishes more details of SEN proposals

The Government has today published more details of their plans for SEN.  Their long-awaited "Next Steps" paper confirms the Government’s plans to progress the proposals made in last year’s Green Paper.  It updates on progress over the last year, summarises responses to their proposals, and sets out their plans for taking the reforms forward.  

You can read the report here:

Commenting on the Government’s response to last year’s Green Paper consultation on special educational needs (SEN), Mark Lever, Chief Executive, NAS, said:

“The proposed changes to the statementing process look promising.

“The concern is exactly how support will be improved for children with SEN who don’t have a statement but still have significant needs. A recent NAS survey indicated that only 65% of children with autism do have a statement – and although 18% without currently get some support through School Action Plus, 44% of parents told us they are dissatisfied with it.    

There has been much media hype over identification of SEN, but for children with autism this is not a picture we recognise. Many parents we speak to have faced a huge battle to get their child the educational help and support they need.

“With the Government pledging to change how it identifies SEN, there is a danger that more children with autism will fall through the gaps in the education system and miss out on an effective preparation for adult life and employment.”
Main points of the report include:

  • replacing SEN statements and separate Learning Difficulty Assessments (for older children) with a single, simpler birth to 25 assessment process and Education, Health and Care Plan from 2014. Parents with the plans would have the right to a personal budget for their support.
  • providing statutory protections comparable to those currently associated with a statement of SEN to up to 25 in further education – instead of there being a 'cliff edge' when it is cut off at 16, to help young people into employment and independent living.
  • local authorities and health services will be required to link up services for disabled children and young people – so they are jointly planned and commissioned.
  • requiring local authorities to publish a local offer showing the support available to disabled children and young people and those with SEN, and their families.
  • introducing mediation for disputes and trialling giving children the right to appeal if they are unhappy with their support.
  • children would have a new legal right to seek a place at state academies and Free Schools – currently it is limited to maintained mainstream and special schools. Local authorities would have to name the parent’s preferred school so long it was suitable for the child.
  • a new single category of SEN for children whose needs exceed what is normally available in schools to replace School Action and School Action Plus

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Government announces plans to change SEN law

In yesterday's Queen's speech the Government announced it will introduce new legislation to reform the Special Educational Needs (SEN) and disability system.  This is a significant step forward from the proposals first announced in last summer's Green Paper, Support and Aspiration.   It marks what will be the biggest legal changes to the SEN system in 30 years.

Our Great Expectations campaign, supported by thousands of campaigners has called on the Government to create a system which prepares children for life and works with, not against, their parents.  We welcome the Government's aim to support families with children with disabilities such as autism.  However, we will continue to ensure changes to the SEN and disability system benefit all children and young people who need specialist support, not just those with statements.

The main changes that will be put forward in the Bill are:

·        From 2014 replace the system of statements of SEN and Learning Difficulty Assessments with a “single, simpler assessment process and Education, Health and Care Plan"
·        Extend the statutory protections associated with a statement of SEN to young people up to the age of 25 in further education, instead of the statement ceasing when the young person leaves school

·        Requiring local authorities to publish a local offer showing the support available to children and young people with SEN and disabilities and their families
·        Give parents or young people who have an Education, Health and Care Plan the right to a personal budget for their support

·        Introduce mediation for disputes and trial giving children the right to appeal if they are unhappy with their support

Thank you to all those campaigners who have got involved with our Great Expectations campaign.  We will keep you updated as the plans progress and let you know about further things you can get involved in.

For more information on getting involved with our education campaign go to www.autism.org.uk/greatexpectations