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Special education needs reforms

For some time it has been recognised at a national level that support for children and young people with special educational needs should be improved. Across the country, families, professionals and a whole variety of organisations have been involved in discussions to find out what changes should be made.

The main changes have been:

Education, Health & Care Plans - Statements of Special Educational Need and Learning Difficulties Assessments post 16 has become joint Education, Health & Care Plans based on a co-ordinated assessment spanning the 0-25 age range.

Joint Commissioning - More shared decision making across Education, Health and Care when arranging services for individuals or developing services locally.

Local Offer - Local Authorities ensure information is published about local services and how to access them.

Personal Budgets - More information for families about the money available to meet a child or young person’s needs in order to give them more say in how it is spent.

Mediation and appeals - Greater use of mediation where there are disagreements about services to be provided for a child or young person.

Involvement - More opportunities for parents and young people to be involved in planning their own support and developing services locally.

The revised code of practice

In October 2014, the DFE published the revised SEN Code of Practice and a series of SEN regulations that sit alongside it. The document clearly and concisely sets out the statutory guidance for all those working with and caring for children and young people with SEN.

For the first time this code of practice covers the age range from 0 – 25 and is very clear about the expectations from education, health and social care to ensure that every individual has their needs met across all services.

The code of practice came into force on 1 September 2014 and from that day onwards all professionals engaged in supporting young people with SEN have regard to this document. Some elements will be a statutory requirement (must) and some will be best practice (should).

The Swindon Local Offer

In accordance with the Children and Families Act, all local authorities must publish and review information about services available for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who are aged from 0 to 25 years, which will be reviewed annually. The aim is to improve the Special Educational Needs system, enhance the quality of life for families living in the local area and ensure the best outcome for children and young people.

Swindon’s Local Offer website highlights the full range of support and services available; some of these are Council services, some are independent and others are collaborative. The information is easily accessible and in enough detail to enable families to make the best choices for their children.

To find out more, please visit the Swindon Local Offer website.

How will we plan for and make the changes in Swindon?

In Swindon we get a lot of positive feedback from young people and their families about what we are already doing but we see this change in the law as an opportunity to make things even better. We want to make sure that we continue to improve provision for children, young people and their families in Swindon.  To do this we need to hear from a wide range of people, to get your views about what is working well already and where the changes are most needed.

To do this, we have set up a project group including people who work across Education, Health and Social Care Services for both Children and Adults in Swindon, parent representatives and representatives from organisations supporting young people. The role of this group will be to co-ordinate all the work that needs to be done to understand, plan and make the changes needed from September 2014.

To do this they will:

  • Keep up to date with the Children & Families Bill as it goes through Parliament so we know what we will be expected to do and when
  • Keep up to date with the progress and advice from the Pathfinders Programme
  • Talk to local families, professionals, services and organisations about the way they would like things to change especially with the Education, Health & Care Plan and ‘Local Offer’
  • Run some pilots with a small number of families to find out the best way of doing the Education, Health & Care Plan and Personal Budgets
  • Support services to write their own ‘local offers’ and collect them together so they can be made available for people in one place e.g. on a website and/or in print
  • Keep people up to date with the progress in making the changes in Swindon
  • Look at ways of organising our Education, Health and Social Care assessment teams for Children & Adults into a service that can support people from 0-25
  • Review the Transitions Protocol (PDF) and look at how the changes will improve the experience of people moving in to adulthood.

Further information

If you want to find out more about the changes in the Children & Families Bill there are a number of places you can go to get information:

The SEND Pathfinder website

Contact a Family
Free helpline: 0808 808 3555

Preparing for Adulthood
Tel: 020 7843 6348

Council for Disabled Children
Tel: 020 7843 1900

What to do if you have questions or would like to get more involved with the work in Swindon

We are trying to use as many of the existing groups for young people, parents & carers, professionals and organisations as possible to gather views from people. If you want to get involved but are not already part of a group you could contact:

Parent Partnership
Tel: 01793 466515 

Youth Forum & Chatterbox
Via Swindon STEP (Ten to Eighteen Project) on 01793 714042

If you are unable to use any of these routes or prefer to get in touch with us direct you can use the following email address:

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