Special Educational Needs (SEN)

The Children and Families Bill would make changes to the way in which support is provided to children and young people with Special Educational Needs.

Provisions include, but are not limited to:

  • Clause 26 creates a new duty for joint commissioning which will require local authorities and health bodies to work in partnership when arranging provision for children and young people with SEN.
  • Clause 30 places a requirement on local authorities to publish a "local offer" of services they expect to be available for children and young people with SEN.
  • Clauses 36 to 47 set out the requirements relating to the provision and implementation of Education, Health and Care plans.
  • Clause 48 requires local authorities to prepare a personal budget for children or young people with an EHC Plan if asked to do so by the child’s parent or the young person.

MPs are particularly interested in your comments on the practical implications of specific clauses of the Bill. Please make clear whether your comment relates to a specific clause or schedule.

This forum is now closed.

390 Responses to Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Steph Curtis says:
February 26, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Subject: General comment on Special Educational Needs (SEN) clauses
We are very concerned about this Bill as it stands. It feels as if everything is being rushed through. It feels like it is a Bill for the Professionals rather than for the families who have to live their whole lives, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with these SEN children.
I am on a Pathfinder project to trial the new EHC plan, but the name doesn't fit if the replacement for the statement is still only accountable with regards education. Services must be joined up and offered to parents at the same time - any advice or therapies impact on each other.
It is not right that special academies will be able to admit children without an EHCP. What rights does the LA have over 'mainstream' academies?
Time limits are key as without them parents are left in never-ending depressing circles.
The same level of professional evidence should be collected during the assessment as currently.
The duty of the LA should be to ensure that the provision is actually delivered, not just to hand over money and then wave people away.
Deborah W says:
February 26, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Subject: General comment on Special Educational Needs (SEN) clauses
All teachers should receive a minimum amount of training on dyslexia through initial teacher training and continuing professional development modules. The bill does not say what mechanisms there will be to identify and care for children who do not qualify for an EHC plan. Most dyslexic children will not qualify for an EHC plan. Therefore it is vital that teachers are trained appropriately to help these children.
Beth W says:
February 26, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Subject: General comment on Special Educational Needs (SEN) clauses
Children are slipping through the education system, it is vital that we give children with dyslexia all the help necessary to reach their full potential. It is disgusting in this day and age the way dyslexic children are just left without the right(fully dyslexic trained teachers) help in school leaving them scared for life,with extremely low self esteems, believing they are of low intelligence, when in fact they are usually of high intellegence hence why they have the low self esteem because they are clever enough to know they cannot cope, while others in the class can! Their family lives are extremely difficult as parents are left trying to cope with their totally frustrated children at home while the school system just carry on as normal, totally un aware of the stresses these children/families are being put through! Please don't let these children suffer anymore let their full potential be achieved by giving them an education system we can be proud of!
Sara says:
February 26, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Subject: General comment on Special Educational Needs (SEN) clauses
Mainstream education cannot cater for the needs of every child with SEN. The special education sector will always have a place until mainstream schools and colleges are kitted out with all the latest accessible technology and equipment for physical disabilities as well as staff that are expert in SEN as well as how they teach now. In an ideal world, all schools and colleges would be able to accept and properly educate, all children and young people. Specialist schools and colleges must be included in the choices given to children, young people and their parents.
Caron K says:
February 26, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Subject: General comment on Special Educational Needs (SEN) clauses
On behalf of KLS Support UK I would like to add our concern that medical conditions be included in the definition of SEN and that LAs have a duty and timetable to adhere to. It is important that SEN can be recognised quickly so that relevant support and adjustments can be made. We are also concerned that the exam system should contain flexibility so that children who are I'll at the time of exams have the opportunity to gain qualifications.
Julia W says:
February 26, 2013 at 04:56 PM
Subject: General comment on Special Educational Needs (SEN) clauses
1. It does not help with simplifying the law on home programmes eg ABA programmes. It is still necessary to prove no school can meet need before obtaining a funded home programme. This is particularly the case for pre school children when ABA home progammes / dual placements have the best evidence of efficacy yet the only option for SEN provision appears to be mainstream nursery for which there is no evidence of efficacy for pre school autistic children. There must be efforts to put accredited ABA / home programmes on the same footing as special schools / mainstream schools as they are a valid option and often achieve better outcomes. ABA support in mainstream also needs to be looked at.
2. It does not resolve the problem of LA amending a Statement (where amendment has the effect of removing a large chunck of provision or changing the placement) and the LA then removing the provision or changing the placement before the appeal can be heard. For ceasing a statement the provision must be kept in place until appeal, but if 90% of the provision is ceased there is no right to keep the provision in place pending appeal. This is particularly a problem for ABA programmes which are often cut without consultation / notice. A parent has to apply for judicial review for provision / placement to remain the same while the appeal is heard. It should be possible for major amendments (which amount to entirely different provision) to not be implmented pending appeal.
3. I can find no information about legal aid for SEN cases. Under old rules this was inexplicably based on parents incomes. Given few parents of a disabled child can afford legal advice legal aid must be changed to be in the name of the child (as any other civil case for a child would be). Legal aid would allow early advice and limit cases / issues going to tribunal. Where a family has good quality legal advice disputes can often be resolved by negotiation removing the need for mediation or tribunal. It would assist with only genuine disputes going to hearing. Presently LAs make appeals so complicated and legalistic so parents drop out.
4. The bill does nothing to recognise that SEN Tribunals now insist on expert evidence and will not award certain placements (ABA, residential) without expert evidence. This means only wealthy parents can succeed in obtaining these placements for their children. If the Tribunal want expert evidence then it must be State funded.
Gillian W says:
February 26, 2013 at 04:56 PM
Subject: General comment on Special Educational Needs (SEN) clauses
Reading through the bill I feel I am left with concerns about legal entitlements to support. I am not sure about funding. I am concerned about how a child with current statement will be affected by the EHC plan - I have concerns about the use of language in the EHC - ie wooly words and and moral imperatives. Will a child with a statement suddenly find themselves without the correct level of support, will money be ring fenced? Will schools decide how to spend SEN budgets which are allocated to child with the statement? There seems to be little detail about the structure of the EHC - will funding be the same as it is at present (when details in a statement). I am concerned about who will have overall say in making sure that eduction and health and care needs are met - ie will there be a hierarchy? eg will a consultant have more say than a sen co-ordinator? There seems to be a lack of real timescales within the bill. How will the services interact? how will the 'local offer' remain current? and address changes which may occur? May I also say that a deadline of 26th from a reading which took place on the 25th is bonkers! - Thanks for reading - I am basically very concerned about what is NOT in this document!
Olivia says:
February 26, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Subject: General comment on Special Educational Needs (SEN) clauses
As a parent of special needs child I thought this was new bill was really gonna shake up the system to improve outcomes of special needs child but they may will make things worse more stressful for parents and carers the bill is missing this info 1 no specified time frame on any assesment or help to be put in place 2 key worker a lot of parent really like the idea of having one person to manage whole thing really
3 TIme it all seems so rushed what is the point of rushing this though as you should wait to get right .4 a culture change is needed in local authority sen departments too many people stuck in the old way s and this is a new approach and training takes time .
Let's make tikis matter for children and young adults with disabilities and special needs lets make. A real change and help them have a better outcome working together parents and professionals
Together for Short Lives says:
February 26, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Subject: Clauses 25-26 Integration and joint commissioning
The duties on health services need to be clearer.

Clauses 25-29 require local services to co-operate, to jointly review services, and to put in place arrangements for joint commissioning. Clause 31 lists the bodies which are required to co-operate with Local Authorities in providing single assessments and EHCPs. Together for Short Lives does not believe that the duties on the NHS are strong enough - a position shared by the Education Select Committee and a number of other organisations representing disabled children.

While there are encouraging new duties on local authorities contained in the Bill, it is still not clear how local health authorities will be accountable for delivering the complex health interventions that many children with life-limiting conditions need. The Bill should be strengthened to make this clearer and aligned to duties on local authorities and health services set out in the Health and Social Care Act.
Together for Short Lives says:
February 26, 2013 at 04:26 PM
Subject: Clauses 30-32 Information and advice
Clause 30 requires local authorities to produce information on the education, health and social care services ‘it expects’ to be available locally - this will be known as the ‘local offer’. The intention is to give parents and young people clear information about local services and how they can access them. Together for Short Lives supports this aspiration, which should speed up access to those services and increase confidence in the system.

For young people transitioning from children’s to adult’s services, the Government has added “provision to assist in preparing children and young people for adulthood and independent living” into the list of information which needs to be provided in the local offer (clause 30(2)(e)). Provision to support children and young people for adulthood and independent living is defined as relating to housing, employment and participation in society (clause 30(3)).

In order for the local offer to be effective, we believe clause 30 needs to strengthened in two ways:

(1) Currently a local authority will only have to set out the provision ‘it expects’ to be available in their local offer. This wording is not strong enough to provide redress for parents or young people if those services are not made available. We believe that there needs to be a legal duty to provide what is set out in the local offer. This will allow parents and young people and young people to challenge local authorities if the local offer is not delivered.

(2) To address the current variation in support, a national framework should inform the development of each local offer.

The Bill should include a ‘duty to provide’ and a national framework to create much needed accountability for and consistency in local provision.

Related information

What is Public Reading?

Public Reading is an initiative to give members of the public the opportunity to provide their views on Bills before they are made into law. This is the first Public Reading to be run by the House of Commons and is a pilot of the process. Comments on the Bill will be made available to the Committee of MPs responsible for examining the Bill in detail so that they can take them into account when deciding whether to make changes to the Bill.

About the Children and Families Bill

The Children and Families Bill contains provisions to change the law in several areas relating to children and families.

Explanatory Notes

The Government publishes explanatory notes alongside a Bill to assist readers in understanding the proposed legislation

Additional Comments?

Comments on areas not covered by the listed Bill topics, or broader comments on the Bill as a whole (including anything that you think should have been included in the Bill but is not) should be posted as an additional comment. As this Public Reading is a pilot, we are also keen to hear your views on the public reading process itself.

Public Bill Committees

A Bill Committee is appointed for each Bill that goes through Parliament and is named after the Bill it considers. Public Bill Committees have the power to take written and oral evidence. The Committee examines the Bill line by line and reports its conclusions and any amendments to the Commons, where MPs debate the Bill further.

Pre-legislative Scrutiny

Some provisions in the Children and Families Bill were published in draft form last year so that MPs could scrutinise them and recommend changes to be made before the Bill itself was introduced to Parliament. Four different Committees from the House of Commons and the House of Lords examined draft clauses.