Monday, September 3, 2012

New draft SEN legislation published

The National Autistic Society (NAS) has welcomed the publication of draft legislation on reforms to the Special Educational Needs (SEN) system in England.

The draft legislation sets out provisions for statements to be replaced by Education, Health and Care plans (EHCP), which will extend statutory protections for children with SEN up to the age of 25 for those in further education.

The NAS believes that this will help improve transition for young people with autism. However, we are also working on the draft social care legislation to help improve transition into non-educational support.

In addition, the legislation will put new duties on local authorities and local health bodies to jointly commission services for children with SEN locally. The NAS has long been calling for these duties and we believe that this will help services to be more joined up at a local level.

However, we have ongoing concerns about whether the reforms will help improve support for those children who do not have a statement or EHCP.

The proposed new duty on councils to produce a “local offer”, setting out the support available locally for children with SEN will help increase transparency for parents. More detail is needed about how parents will be able challenge the availability of services and ensure that there are services that meet their child’s needs.

The NAS has also long been campaigning to ensure that the same duties around SEN apply to academy schools as to other schools. The draft legislation suggests that the Government has listened to our concerns, as the provisions will apply to all academies.

The legislation is only in draft and the changes will take quite a long time to become law.

The draft will be debated by the Education Select Committee between now and Christmas, with a Bill expected to be published in the new year. We expect the Bill to take a full year to pass through Parliament and into law. Even once this has happened it will take a while before the changes are implemented.

The NAS will continue its updates on the new legislation throughout this time to let and offer opportunities for you to let us know what you think of the changes, as well as letting you know when the changes are expected to come in.

The full details of the draft legislation can be found here:

Please let us know what you think of the changes by commenting below.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email