More cash to help bring in new SEND reforms

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The Department for Education is giving an extra £31.7m to help local authorities implement special needs reforms.

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Edward Timpson, children and families minister

In 2015 and 2016 the government will provide this funding to ensure the costs of implementing the new special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) code of practice are met.

Edward Timpson, children and families minister, said, ‘We’re on the beginning of a journey to provide simpler, improved and consistent help.

‘Local councils have made a strong start in implementing these life-changing reforms, but we want to give them more help to take delivery to the next level. The timescale has always been for them to bring children into the new system over the next three years – this extra money will help them to do that.’

As part of this reform, Mr Timpson has invited Ofsted to formally inspect local authorities on their effectiveness in meeting their legal duties towards children with SEND.

These inspections will be made along with the Care Quality Commission and a local authority officer. The aim of the assessments is to ensure both parents and young people receive as much information as possible about what help is on offer.

Susan Daniels, chief executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said that the inspections will make a significant difference to children with SEND, including the 90 per cent of deaf children who may rely on support from local authority services.

Teachers of the Deaf are currently not inspected by Ofsted, so parents are often not given enough information about the quality of their child’s educational support, she said.

‘Fifty-seven percent of deaf children leave school without five good GCSEs. Deafness is not a learning disability, so local authority services for deaf children must be held to account for failing to close the attainment gap between deaf and hearing children.

‘We call on Ofsted to begin rigorous inspections urgently in the new year, so that parents can be confident that every deaf child will now receive the support they need,’ said Ms Daniels.

The SEND code of practice requires local authorities, health bodies, schools, maintained early education settings and colleges to carry out statutory duties for children and young people with SEND.

With one in five children in England having SEND (ranging from dyslexia to a physical impairment), the reforms extend provision from birth to 25 years of age. The aim is to enable children and their parents to be a part of shaping the support they receive, giving them a greater choice in decisions made to make sure their needs are properly met.

Rights and protections to young people are to be extended, with the introduction of a new Education, Health and Care plan, which will allow professionals to give more tailored support to families.

Guides to reform

In order to clearly explain the reforms to families, the DfE has worked with Mencap to publish easy-read guides, one for young people with SEND and another for their parents.

The guide for young people uses simple words, short sentences, bullet points and pictures to make the information provided easier to understand. Dean Meuleman, who works for Mencap and has a learning difficulty, said, ‘All these things help people with a learning disability to understand important information. It can make a real difference to people’s lives.

‘The changes to the law on SEND will affect parents and young people with a learning disability. They have a right to understand these changes and how they will impact them directly,’ said Mr Meuleman.

  • Find the guides here
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