The Children and Families Act 2014 - changes in legislation
The Government has introduced new legislation to the Special Educational Needs (SEN) system: the Children and Families Act 2014.
Changes to the SEN legislation
Statements of Special Educational Needs have been replaced with a single Education, Health and Care Plan available from birth up to 25 years of age. The aim is to have all three agencies working together to support children and young people. The increase to 25 years of age is very positive and there is a great deal of support for bringing Education, Health and Social care under one umbrella.
In order to have a unified system, all pupils with a Statement of Special Educational Needs will have a Transfer Review which should be organised by the Local Authority. At this point a decision will be made whether to convert the Statement to an EHCP.
As part of the process, the Local Authority must ensure that updated advice is obtained from professionals working with the child or young person. This should be a similar process to an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment, or previous Statutory Assessments. At this point, the Statement will end and the Local Authority must decide whether to issue an EHCP or not.
If the Local Authority considers that the child’s or young person’s needs can be met within the usual provision at the school, they may decide not to issue an EHCP. If you have concerns in respect of whether your child’s needs can be met without special provision, this decision can be appealed to the SEND Tribunal. If successful, the Tribunal would then order the Local Authority to issue and maintain an EHCP.
Alternatively, the Local Authority may issue an EHCP, however it is likely that the content will be changed from that of the Statement. If you are unhappy with the contents, specifically Section B (description of needs) or Section F (the provision to meet need) this can also be considered by the SEND Tribunal as part of an appeal. We hope that the transfer process will cause as little disruption to placement and provision as possible, however, should the Local Authority change the name of the school your child should attend, this can also be appealed to the SEND Tribunal. The name of the school should be specified in Section I and can be appealed separately or jointly with Sections B and F of the EHCP.
If you have a child with Special Educational Needs and would like assistance or advice, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team who will be happy to see if we can offer assistance. We would advise you not to delay, as the new changes make things uncertain and it is far better to get provision secured for your child now.