The Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Reforms
The SEND system has recently been the subject of major reform. The reforms are based on the vision that all children and young people are entitled to an education that enables them to achieve their best and leave school or college prepared for adult life, in higher education, training or employment.
Historically, too many children with SEN have had their needs picked up late, young people with SEN have done less well than their peers at school and college and are more likely to be out of education, training and employment at 18. Schools and colleges can focus too much on the SEN label rather than meeting the child’s needs, and the Statements/Learning Difficulty Assessments have not focussed on life outcomes.
Too many families have had to battle to find out what support is available and in getting the help they need from education, health and social care services. There has been considerable conflict within what has been criticised as an unnecessarily adversarial system, with many complaints generated, consuming time and resources and leading to a bad experience for families.
On leaving school for further education, young people have also entered a very different system which has not carried forward the rights and protections existing in the SEN system in school.
The reforms implement a new approach which seeks to join up help across education, health and care, from birth to 25. Help will be offered at the earliest possible point, with children and young people with SEN and their parents or carers fully involved in decisions about their support and what they want to achieve, and a strong focus on outcomes.
This should mean that their experience of the process improves and is less confrontational, leading to better outcomes for young people, including paid employment and greater independence in adult life. It should give parents greater confidence by giving them more influence and control over their support and underpin local decision making and more efficient ways of working.
The Children and Families Act 2014 received Royal Assent on 13 March 2014, part 3 of the Act contains provisions which reform the SEN system.