The new SEND Code of Practice was finally given parliamentary approval in July 2014 and has now been in practice since September 1st. Former nasen CEO Lorraine Peterson OBE comments on the changes and the road ahead.
The implications of the Act and the new SEND Code of Practice are far–reaching and the full impact will not be seen for a number of years. It has been a long and arduous journey from February 2011, when the DfE published its Green Paper: Support and aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability, to March 2014 when the Children and Families Bill finally received Royal Assent. Not all of the aspiration of that original Green Paper is evident in the final Act but there is a great deal that will support children and young people with SEND as we begin to work towards the Act being implemented across the sector. However, three years on, the end is still a long way off. The SEND journey continues until April 2018, the final date by which local authorities must have transferred all current statements to Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). Now, every local authority has to produce the local offer which sets out, in one place, information about the provision that is available in their area across education, health and social care to support children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Each local authority must have published an initial, accessible Local Offer by September 2014. Statements have been replaced by new Education, Health & Care plans. Children and young people currently with a statement will be transferred to an EHC Plan over the next four years. Schools should have a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEND. If high quality teaching is taking place in a classroom and regular assessment of progress is identifying pupils making less than expected progress then the class/subject teacher needs to make a judgement about how they are going to support that pupil.
In order to ensure that all of our teachers and support staff have the knowledge and skills to support this process we need to ensure that they are offered high quality professional development as soon as possible. As the new SEND legislation reform is now implemented, there has to be a very clear idea of how to meet the needs of these children and young people.
It’s been a long SEND journey since March 2011 when the Green Paper was launched. However, there is still a long way to go before it’s right. With a first class educational system that supports all children and young people, especially those with SEND, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
The Code of Practice (2014) covers the 0-25 age range and includes guidance relating to disabled children and young people as well as those with SEND.
- Clearer focus on the participation of children and young people and parents in decision making at individual and strategic levels – Stronger focus on high aspirations and on improving outcomes for children and young people.
- Guidance on the joint planning and commissioning of services to ensure close co-operation between education, health services and social care.
- Guidance on publishing a Local Offer of support for children and young people.
- Social, emotional and mental health needs replaces behaviour, social and emotional difficulties as an area of need.
- A single category called SEND Support replaces School Action and School Action Plus.
- Quality first teaching embedded throughout the identification, intervention, evaluation process.
- SEND provision is that which goes beyond the differentiated approaches and learning arrangements normally provided as part of high quality personalised teaching and uses appropriate evidence-based interventions.
- SEND support in schools based on 4 part cycle of action – assess, plan, do, review.