In September 2014 the Children and Families Act became law and ushered in significant changes to the SEN system. Under this new legislation, existing statements and Learning Disability Assessments (LDAs) are to be replaced by EHC (Education, Health and Care) Plans gradually between now and April 2018. Any new request for statutory assessment made on or after 1 September 2014 will fall under the new system and will be treated as a request for an EHC Assessment. This will be a time of enormous change for local authorities, schools and families as they adjust to the new systems and processes specified in the new legislation. Read on for more detailed information about the Children and Families Act and how it may affect your child’s education.
For more information about Special Educational Needs please contact Full of Life’s Information Advice and Support Service (I.A.S.S) - Allison Ambrogi.
Tel: 0208 960 9064 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Children and Families Act and SEN Reform
The Children and Families Act takes forward the Coalition Government’s commitments to improve services for vulnerable children and support families. The Act seeks to reform the systems for adoption, looked after children, family justice and special educational needs. It will encourage growth in the childcare sector, introduce a new system of shared parental leave and ensure children in England have a strong advocate for their rights.
In September 2014, as part of the Children and Families Act, a single 0 – 25 ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’ replaced Special Educational Needs statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments. This new plan provides statutory protections comparable to those currently associated with a statement of SEN up to the age of 25 instead of it being cut off at 16 or 19.
Your rights of appeal to the SEND Tribunals now extends to further education and Local authorities must also publish a Local Offer, which lists all support and services available to disabled children and young people and those with SEN, and their families.
To visit the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s local offer go to:
Parents or young people with ‘Education, Health and Care Plans’ will also have the right to request an education personal budget for some support that is linked to outcomes in the EHC Plan.
For more information about the Children and Families Act, please visit IPSEA’s website: www.ipsea.org.uk/home
SEN Support Process
School- Based SEN Support
It is expected that the vast majority of children and young people with SEN will have their needs met through intervention and support provided by mainstream schools from their own resources and that EHC Plans will only be necessary for a very small minority of pupils.
If you are concerned about your child’s learning and progress in school the first thing to do is arrange to speak to your child’s class teacher about your concerns. Additionally every school must have a Special Needs Coordinator (SENCO) who is responsible for the SEN provision within the school.
Before the changes to SEN legislation school-based support was provided under two categories: School Action and School Action Plus. The new legislation did away with these headings and replaced them with a single category of School SEN Support.
If your child is receiving school-based SEN Support the school should discuss with you what outcomes they are seeking for your child and keep you updated on your child’s progress towards these outcomes. They should be able to explain to you what interventions and support they are providing to your child in order to help them achieve the outcomes and support their progress. If a school feels your child requires more support than they are able to provide from their resources they should trigger the EHC Needs Assessment process.
Each school is required to produce an SEN Information Report which should explain how they can support pupils with a variety of needs.
For more detailed information on what local schools are be expected to provide, see the RBKC Mainstream School Local Offer at: http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/pdf/RBKC-Mainstream-School-LO.pdf
Education Health and Care (EHC) Assessment Request
An EHC assessment may be carried out by the local authority if they have reason to believe that a child’s special educational needs could not be met solely by the resources available in a typical maintained school. Schools have their own SEN budgets with which they are able to provide a certain amount of extra support and/or specialist resources.
If a pupil will likely require more than this support, or if they are likely to be most appropriately educated in a special school, than an EHC assessment is necessary.
The EHC Assessment process can be triggered through a (written) parental request or a school request. If you are considering requesting an assessment for your child, it is best to consult with your child’s school first. If the school is thinking of making a request for EHC assessment for your child, they should consult with you. If the local authority decides to undertake an EHC assessment then they will inform you of their decision in writing and will arrange for professionals to contribute to the assessment through written reports based on observations and assessments of your child. The local authority will seek a view from a medical professional, an educational psychologist, social services (if your child is known to them), the child’s school, and any relevant therapists. An EHC Assessment may or may not lead to the creation of an EHC Plan.
Time-scales and the main points of EHC Assessment
- Once the request is submitted, the local authority has six weeks to decide whether to assess.
- There are a further ten weeks for assessment and evidence gathering.
- A draft plan should be issued by the end of 16 weeks. If the local authority has decided not to issue a plan, they must write to the parents at this time and explain their reasons.
- The plan must be finalised and sent by the end of 20 weeks.
Total duration of the process 20 weeks
If the Local Authority decides not to carry out an EHC Assessment
If the Local Authority decides not to assess your child, it must write and tell you and the school its reasons. If you or your child’s school still feel that more needs to be done, talk to the school. The local authority could also think about other ways of helping your child, including getting in some outside help.
Your local authority should tell you about local arrangements mediating any disagreement informally and how long it should take. You also have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, an independent organisation. It is important that you begin any appeal to the Tribunal within the time limit as the Tribunal is likely to refuse to hear your appeal if you are late. Under the new SEN legislation, it is mandatory to consider mediation before lodging an appeal to the SEND Tribunal.
For advice on appealing any decisions contact Full of Life’s Independent Advice and Support Service, Allison Ambrogi on Tel: 0208 960 9064 Email: email@example.com
Quick Facts – If your child has a Statement
A statement is a formal document describing a child’s special educational needs and the special educational provision necessary to meet those needs.
Part Two of the statement should be a comprehensive summary of your child’s needs, as detailed in the reports gathered during statutory assessment.
Part Three, which is legally binding, describes what type of educational setting and provision should be provided for your child.
Part Four of the statement will name your child’s school. This will be left blank when you receive your child’s draft statement, in order for you to express a preference for the school of your choice.
A statement must be reviewed annually at an Annual Review meeting. When your child has a statement, the process of school application changes and it becomes the local authority’s role to approach potential schools for admission.
As long as your child still has a statement, all of pre-September 2014 legislation still applies to the processes around the statement including annual reviews and rights of appeal.
The Local Authority has until April 2018 to transfer existing statements into EHC Plans. You will receive a letter from the local authority stating in which academic year they expect your child’s statement will go through this transfer process. Remember it is expected that everyone who currently has a statement will get an EHC Plan, unless their needs have changed significantly.
Local Transition Plan:
Each LA will have to produce a Local Transition Plan which lists the order in which children and young people will be transferred from Statements and Learning Disability Assessments to EHC Plans. You can view the RBKC Local Transition Plan via the Local Offer by using the following link:
Transfer from Statement to EHC
- Parents must be given at least two weeks’ notice prior to a transfer review.
- There is a ten week period for a meeting to be held and for any new assessments or evidence to be gathered. If you would like new assessments to be carried out for the transfer, make sure you request it.
- At the end of ten weeks the local authority should issue a draft EHC Plan, or inform the parent of their decision not to.
- The plan must be finalised by the end of 14 weeks.
Total duration of the process 14 weeks
Quick Facts – What is an EHC Plan?
- It is a new kind of plan that will replace statements of Special Educational Needs.
- It can extend up to age 25 for young people (unless the young person leaves school/training prior to this age).
- EHC Plans are meant to be more holistic and person-centred than statements; they are focused on aspirations and outcomes rather than objectives.
- They include information about a child or young person’s education, social care and health needs.
Learning Disability Assessments and Lapsed Statements
From the 1st September 2014, no new Learning Disability Assessments (LDA’s) will be carried out. Young adults who already have an LDA will still have the same legal rights for a further two years (until 2016).
If your young adult has a lapsed statement or a Learning Disability Assessment, you will have to request a re-assessment for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC), as you will not be automatically transferred. The decision to proceed with an EHC assessment or EHC plan will be based on individual circumstances.
For more information please contact the Full of Life’s Independent Support Service on 0208 962 9917 / firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to read in more detail about the new legislation and how the new SEN System is meant to work, please consult the SEN Code of Practice 2014 at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25
Full of Life’s Independent Advice and Support Service (I.A.S.S) (0-25 RBKC)
If your child has a disability or any other special educational needs, The Independent Advice and Support Service (formally The Parent Partnership Service) can help. The service offers independent advice and information about all issues relating Special Educational Needs. The service informs parents about their rights and the rights of their child under Education Law.
The Independent Advice and Support Service also offers practical help and support with the following:
- Helping parents understand the Education, Health and Social Care (EHC) planning/assessment process for Special Educational Needs.
- Helping parents understand the Annual Review process.
- Supporting parents to represent their views at meetings, via letters or forms.
- Filling in forms and replying to letters if parents are unable to.
- Requesting information on your child’s special educational needs.
- Helping parents to understand the system for supporting your child’s special educational needs.
- Where there are disagreements, The Independent Advice and Support Service can provide advice and help to get your views across.
- Able to provide advice around SEN tribunals, but cannot act as a representative.
Independent Advice and Support Service (I.A.S.S) (0-16) - Allison Ambrogi
Full of Life,
Kensal House Annex,
379 Ladbroke Grove,
London W10 5BQ.
Tel: 0208 960 9064 / Email: email@example.com
Carer’s Advocacy for Parents/Carers of Young People (16-25) – Samantha Peters
Tel 0208 962 9917 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Full of Life’s Independent Support Service (I.S.S)
Full of Life’s I.S.S service offers specific support for parents of children and young people who are requesting or are transferring from Statements or Learning Disability Assessments to Education, Health and Social Care Plans (E.H.C).
This service will refer to the Independent Advice and Support Service (I.A.S.S) for more complex issues in relation to Special Educational Needs.
This service is for parents of disabled children and young people (0-25) with Special Educational Needs.
For more information about this service, please contact Full of Life directly on 0208 962 9994 / email@example.com
Changes to Mainstream School Funding for SEN
In April 2013, the place-plus system was brought in to move to a fairer, more consistent SEN funding system across all Local Authorities. The way in which Mainstream and Special Schools are funded is different.
SEN Funding Consists of three elements
- The Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) - this is the basic/core sum that all schools receive per child, regardless of their SEN. The total sum a school receives is dependent on the total number of students in the school. It is generally thought that the sum equates to between £2,000 to £4,000 per student which is used for general school provisions. It is important to remember that special educational provision is any support that is additional to or different to provision that is provided for all students i.e. provision that is expected to be provided from the core AWPU
- Additional support funding (ASF) - schools are given additional money to meet the needs of children with SEN. The amount of ASF that a school receives is based on a formula agreed by schools and the Local Authority. This formula involves various criteria including a social deprivation index which for example may allocate more funding to schools with more children on free school meals. Currently, the government suggests that schools use up to £6,000 for a pupil with SEN. Schools can choose to spend this money as they think best to meet the needs of all their children with SEN. The Local Authority can set out what it expect schools to provide from this funding but it is not enforceable. ASF is given to maintained schools by the Local Authority and to academies and free schools by the Education Funding Agency (EFA).
- Top-up funding - if a student with SEN requires funding over £6,000, then schools (maintained, academies and free schools) can request additional funding from the Local Authority's high needs block. This funding must be used on the individual.
Special schools (maintained, academy and non-maintained but not independent schools) are provided with base SEN funding of £10,000 per student (the total sum based on an estimate of the predicted number of places in the next academic year). If required, schools can request top-up funding from the LA (if a maintained school) or the EFA (if an academy or free school). So, under place-plus, mainstream schools are expected to provide the first £6,000 of additional educational support required by a student with high needs, regardless of the AWPU/core funding.
Pupil referral units are funded similarly to special schools, but with a base funding of £8,000 per place.
SEN funding will include funding for the base programme / course according to the national 16-19 formula, with an additional £6,000 for each planned high needs place. So, to clarify, the £6,000 element is funding for support that is additional to support that is available for all children (including non-SEN children). This means that when schools are considering whether they can apply for top-up funding (and when LAs are considering applications for top-up funding), they need to account for £6,000 worth of additional support provided to the child.
Changes in the School Leaving Age in 2015
The Education and Skills Act 2008 bought forward changes to ensure that as of 2015 all young people aged 16-18 must continue to participate in education and/or training.
P Levels (5- 16) (National)
P levels are targets used in schools to help show the progress of children aged 5 – 16 with special educational needs, who are working below level one of the National Curriculum, in core or other foundation subjects.
It is important for you to know what your child’s P levels are as they can be a good indicator of your child’s educational strengths and weaknesses. This can be used as evidence of your child’s needs.
For more information about P Levels please see https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/269756/Performance_level-attainment_targets.pdf