Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)

The Children and Families Act 2014 is reforming how children in England with special educational needs and disabilities are assessed and how their care is provided and co-ordinated. By September 2018, all children with SEN will have an integrated assessment, a single education, health and care (EHC) plan and a personal budget if they want one. The new law has also established joint commissioning of services for children with SEN and disabilities - and means that local authorities must work with children and families to produce local offers; these will set out the services that children with SEND can expect to receive within their local area.

The England-wide timetable for implementing the reforms is as follows:

  • From 1 September 2014: young people in further education and training who receive support as a result of a Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA) can now choose to request an education, health and care needs (EHC) assessment.
  • By Spring 2015: early years settings and schools must now have adopted the new SEN support approach for children and young people who do not have statements of SEN.
  • By September 2015: early years settings and schools were expected to have adopted the new SEN support approach for all children and young people.
  • By 1 September 2016: all young people who receive support as a result of a LDA who will continue in further education or training beyond 1 September 2016 must have an EHC plan by that date where one is needed. Until that point, local authorities should continue to implement their duties in relation to young people who receive support as a result of a LDA.
  • By 1 April 2018: local authorities must have transferred all children and young people with statements of SEN to the new SEN and disability system following a ‘transfer review’ (an EHC needs assessment). The Department for Education expects the vast majority of children and young people with statements of SEN to be transferred to an EHC plan. To ensure children and young people continue to receive the support they need during the transition period, local authorities must continue to comply with the previous SEN system.

DfE has also published a framework which sets out how local areas will be held to account for implementing the SEND reforms. The document sets out to describe:

  • the vision for the whole SEND system
  • the roles and responsibilities of local and national organisations in meeting the requirements in the Children and Families Act 2014
  • the data and analysis that will enable everyone to judge how well the new arrangements are working and to compare delivery across areas provide information about new arrangements for independently assessing the new SEND system, including the Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection framework.

Together for Short Lives wants to see health, education and social services working more closely together at national and local levels. We also want all children who need palliative care to be able to access to an integrated EHC plan. We would like children’s palliative care services, including children’s hospices, to play a key role in influencing the development of the SEND reforms locally.

The SEND reforms have the potential to transform the lives of the 40,000 children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions and their families in England who may use palliative care services. Their need for integrated care is perhaps the most challenging and urgent of any group of children, given the complexity of the care required and the pressure of time.

Evidence from the original pathfinder local areas which tested the reforms suggested that there are challenges in:

  • getting health agencies to be strongly involved in the reforms
  • getting the voluntary sector involved - and being clear about the role it could and should play.

We felt that challenges could undermine children with life-limiting conditions benefiting from the SEND reforms because they often have complex health needs and rely on voluntary providers to deliver large elements of their palliative care.

Our 2015/16 SEND project sought to:

  • improve the information and advice available to children with life limiting conditions and their families through our Helpline and resources
  • help us to influence local offers
  • help improve the way in which short breaks for children who need palliative care are jointly commissioned by the NHS and local authorities
  • help education professionals to support children with life-limiting conditions in school, college and early years settings.

We sought to improve the extent to which local voluntary sector providers of children’s palliative care:

  • deliver integrated services
  • are able to adapt to personal budgets - and help the families who use their services to make the most of personal budgets
  • are included in local offers.

You can read the report of Coventry University's work to independently evaluate our 2015-16 SEND project here.

Our work in 2015/16 built on our initial SEND project (2013-15), which aimed to achieve three outcomes:

  • Children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions included in Pathfinder testing and benefiting from greater integration.
  • Children’s hospice and palliative care providers playing an active role in supporting and pathfinders and in the delivery of the reforms.
  • Schools and health and social care services are better equipped to support children with life-limiting conditions.

You can read the report of Coventry University's work to independently evaluate our 2013-15 SEND project here.

Together for Short Lives is now:

 

  • working with health and education ministers and officials together so that policymaking is joined up at the highest levels of government
  • working to ensure that children who need palliative care and their families can fully benefit from the reforms.
  • supporting children’s palliative care services to put the reforms at the centre of the support they provide for families.