Pathfinder champions for disabled and SEN children named

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The Government has announced the 11 pathfinder champions that will help councils prepare for new reforms coming into effect from September.


The champions will help councils prepare for the SEND reforms, designed to help families with disabled children and those with special educational needs

The regional pathfinder champions for children with special educational needs and disabilities (see list below) are made up of 37 councils, some of which trialled the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) reforms in October 2011.

Evaluation reports of the trials, carried out by 31 'pathfinder' local authorities, were published in March.

The role of the pathfinder champions will be to help neighbouring councils prepare for the changes to SEND support, which are designed to give thousands of families greater control over the support they receive.

Alongside their regional support roles, some champions will take on one or more national champion roles in area where they have already developed particular strengths and expertise.

As part of the new SEND reforms, introduced under the Children and Families Act 2014 in March and coming into effect from September, councils will have to publish a ‘local offer’ showing the support available to all disabled children and young people and their families in the area.

They will also be required to co-operate with health services to make sure services for children and young people with SEND are jointly planned and commissioned, giving parents and young people with Education Health and Care plans, which will replace Special Educational Needs statements, the offer of a personal budget to put them in charge of the care they or they children receive.

Children and young people with an Education, Health and Care plan will also have a legal right to express a preference for state academies, free schools and further education colleges. Currently they are limited to choosing between a maintained mainstream setting and special schools.

The Government has announced a £70 million reform grant for councils to prepare to implement the new reforms, alongside an updated SEND code of practice

The regional champions are as follows:

  • North-East: Darlington
  • Yorkshire and Humber: North Yorkshire, Calderdale and York City
  • North West: Wigan, Manchester, Stockport, Salford and Lancashire
  • East Midlands: Leicester City and Nottinghamshire
  • West Midlands: Solihull, Birmingham City, Coventry City, Dudley, Sandwell, Staffordshire, Telford and Wrekin, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton, and Worcestershire
  • South West: Cornwall, Portsmouth and Southampton
  • East of England: Hertfordshire and Bedford
  • London: Bromley, Bexley and Enfield
  • South East : SE7 consortium which consists of Brighton & Hove, East Sussex, West Sussex, Medway, Hampshire, Kent and Surrey

Edward Timpson, children and families minister, said,  ‘With less than five months to go until the introduction of our new reforms, the work of these regional champions is vital to ensure all local authorities, schools, colleges and health care services are ready to implement the changes.

‘Around one in five children currently have some form of special educational needs or disability; our ambition is for every child and young person to lead happy and fulfilled lives, with greater choice and control over their support.’

Along with the announcement of the Pathfinder Champions, Nasen, the organisation that promotes education for children with special educational need, has today launched its SEND gateway, a 'one-stop' online shop for schools and settings to access information, resources and training to support children with additional needs.

  • For more information about the Pathfinder Champions visit the new-look Foundation Years website, which now features new sections on SEND, health and integrated working and the workforce.
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