Changes to Regulations: Special Educational Needs

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Code of Practice

The Government has recently published the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years (“the Code”). The Code sets out statutory guidance on policies and procedures which councils, schools and other organisations who have a duty to support children and young people with Special Educational Needs (“SEN”) must follow. The Code came into force on 1 September 2014, at the same time as the majority of Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014.

Relevant changes

From 1 September 2014 local authorities must consider all requests for an assessment of SEN for children and young people, to determine whether they require an Education, Health and Care (“EHC”) plan, which details the type of provision required to meet the child’s needs. Detail about what an EHC should contain is set out at Section 37 of the Children and Families Act 2014.

Further changes include:

  • an introduction of mediation for disputes over provision of support;
  • a new legal right for children and young people with an EHC plan to express a preference for state academies, free schools or further education colleges; and
  • the right to appeal if children or young people are unsatisfied with the support offered to them.

Academies

Mainstream schools, which for the purpose of the Code includes academies, must use their best endeavours to ensure that a child with SEN gets the support they require. Academies must:

  • prepare an SEN information report, including information in relation to the quality of teaching;
  • designate a teacher to be responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision (this does not apply to 16 to 19 academies);
  • inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child;
  • ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN;
  • publish an SEN information report on their websites which details the governing body’s or the proprietor’s policy for pupils with SEN. The information to be contained in the report is set out in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014; and
  • review how well-equipped they are to provide support across the broad areas of need and support.

The four broad areas are described as:

  1. Communication and interaction;
  2. Cognition and learning;
  3. Social, emotional; and
  4. mental health difficulties and Sensory and/or physical needs.

Often pupils may have needs across all these areas.  A detailed assessment should ensure that the full range of an individual’s needs is identified, to allow for effective special educational provision to be implemented.

This Code sets out a four-part cycle which should be followed:

  1. Assess;
  2. Plan;
  3. Do; and
  4. Review.

It focuses on more detailed approaches, more frequent reviews and more specialist expertise in successive cycles in order to match interventions to the SEN of children.

For more information, help or advice on education issues please contact Tony McPhillips on 0191 211 7908.