Children and Families Act becomes law
Far reaching education reforms for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) have now come into law.
The Children and Families Act has been introduced to provide simpler help for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
The Act has ended SEN statements and replaced them with school-based education, health and care plans (EHCPs) covering children up to the age of 25.
Professionals will also provide more tailored support to families, giving them the help and assistance they need, says the Department for Education.
The streamlined system is backed by a single assessment process and the option of personal budgets for families of children with SEN to spend on support for their education.
The changes, hailed as the biggest shake-up in the system for 30 years, are intended to cut bureaucracy and have been welcomed by those providing assistive technology to children with SEN. One in five children in England has SEN or a disability, ranging from dyslexia to a physical impairment.
In future, money will be focused on children rather than schools, who were tempted to spend the cash for SEND on general items such as buildings.
The Act also signals a move back towards special schools and away from including disabled children in mainstream education.
Headline changes include:
- Act applies to children and young people up to the age of 25.
- Local authorities are responsible for identifying and providing support for all children and young people with SEND in their area. This includes academies and free schools.
- The current Statement will be replaced by an education health and care plan (EHCP) that will include joint arrangements for the support of the child or young person.
- EHCPs will extend to the wider further education (FE) and skills sector and will replace the 139A assessment and can continue into apprenticeships.
- Young people will be involved in all aspects of the planning and decision making in the production of the EHCP.
- Personal budgets will be available to those in receipt of an EHCP or their parent or carer who request one.
- Colleges and wider FE and skills providers will need to cooperate with local authorities to participate in the planning for and to agree the provision to be delivered as part of the EHCP.
- Young people have right to request a particular school, FE college or Independent specialist provider (including free schools and academies)to be named in EHCP and require that institution to respond.