Under the new arrangements, School Action and School Action Plus will be replaced by the combined EHCP. Children who have a combined plan will have the same level of statutory protection as they did under the previous statement of SEN. Where this gets less clear, however, is how this will affect children who aren’t eligible for a combined plan, but would have previously been on School Action or School Action plus. There may be distinct geographical differences, too, as local authorities will be publishing a “local offer” of provision available to children with SEN, which will vary from region to region.
The National Association for Head Teachers (NAHT) describes the changes thus: “The Green Paper says current practice harms children who do not have SEN but are identified as such. It says: ‘This problem of over-identification sustains a culture of low expectations for these children and can mean that they do not get the right help. It can distract teachers away from their main priority of teaching pupils, assessing where they are in their learning and ensuring they get the right help where needed.’ “Instead, the government wants to embed the approach of the Achievement for All project, change statutory guidance on how SEN should be identified and enforce ‘sharper accountability”. “The SEN Code of Practice will be shorter and clearer for professionals, including those in early years settings There will be new measures in performance tables on the progress of
disadvantaged pupils and those in the lowest-attaining 20 per cent”.
To support schools during this transition, government proposals include:
- Increased emphasis on managing SEN in school as part of initial teacher training.
- Increased emphasis on continuos professional development and on-going training.
- Increased focus by Ofsted on ways in which SEN is identified and the progression of the lowest attaining 20 per cent.
Although there is still some way to go before the Bill becomes legislation, all indicators suggest that the majority of these
changes will go ahead. The aspiration of managing a diverse range of children’s needs within the school setting is laudable, but
what will this look like at the chalk face? What support and resources will teachers have at their fingertips to turn these
aspirations into a vibrant and dynamic reality? This is a crucial time as no-one quite knows what will replace School Action and
School Action Plus in terms of “real life” provision, particularly for those children who fall just short of accessing the