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

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