Parents feel more supported ahead of radical SEND reforms

New findings published on 15 August 2014 show families test-driving the government’s new special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) system feel more supported than ever.

An independent report into the new support, available from this September, shows that the measures are already making a real difference to the lives of children, young people and families. The biggest transformation to SEND support for 30 years will give children and parents greater say over their personalised care and assistance, and put in place a new, continual birth-to-25 system for children and young people with SEND.

From this September, a new package of ambitious changes transforming the support on offer will come into force. The new system will:

• Replace SEND statements and learning disability assessments with a new birth-to-25 education, health and care plan - setting out in one place all the support families will receive

• Require better co-operation between councils and health services to make sure services for children and young people with SEND and disabilities are jointly planned and commissioned

• Give parents and young people with education, health and care plans the offer of a personal budget - putting families firmly in charge

• Require councils to publish a ‘local offer’ showing the support available to all disabled children and young people and their families in the area - not just those with educational needs

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

• Introduce a new legal right for children and young people with an education, health and care plan to express a preference for state academies, free schools and further education (FE) colleges - currently limited to maintained mainstream and special schools

These new changes will be phased in from September 2014 - ensuring all children and young people with SEND and their families can benefit from the improved arrangements as soon as possible, while at the same time ensuring that the best possible service is maintained during the transition.

Around 2,500 families have now received the new Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans as part of the pilot pathfinder programme, ensuring that support for children with special educational needs does not simply stop when they turn 18. The new reforms also mean that support can continue up until the age of 25 for those with an EHC plan who need more time to complete their further education or training.

Find out more about SEND code of practice on the government website 

Read the SEND guide for parents and carers on the government website 

News update