On Monday 3 September, the government published draft clauses on reforming the special educational needs (SEN) system.
This is now out for consultation and any changes will be incorporated into the Children and Families Bill which is expected to be introduced into parliament in the new year. It will also be scrutinised by the Education Select Committee.
Mencap welcomes the publication of this document as it gives a great opportunity for interested parties to feed their thoughts back to the government before legislation is published.
Main proposals in the draft clauses:
- The definition of special educational needs will remain the same.
- Local authorities and clinical commissioning groups must make arrangements for jointly commissioning services for children with SEN in their area.
- Local authorities must produce information on the education, health and care services it expects to be available locally (the local offer).
- Statutory assessments and statements of SEN are replaced by education, health and care need assessments and education, health and care plans (EHCPs).
- EHCPs extend statutory rights into the further education and training sector for the first time, with the exception of apprenticeships.
- There are no new duties on health and social care in relation to delivering the content of an EHCP and the plan will cease when a young person is no longer in education and training.
- All of the provisions in the Bill will apply to academies in full.
- The parent or young person must participate in compulsory mediation before they can appeal to the Tribunal.
Mencap welcomes the push towards ensuring that a child’s educational needs are seen in the context of their needs across both health and social care. However, the duty to deliver the provision laid out in the EHCPs lies only with local authorities, which might weaken the intended holistic nature of the plan.
Many children and young people with a learning disability require support across a number of different agencies and so Mencap will bid to ensure that the integration to which the clauses aspire is robust enough.
What will Mencap do next?
Mencap supports the concept of the Local Offer which will provide information to children and young people with SEN and their families about what support there is available for them. Mencap hopes to work with the government and the pathfinder areas that are trialling these proposals, to define the scope of the Local Offer so it is as effective as possible in providing people with the necessary information.
Mencap will also explore the way in which these proposals tie in with the measures set out in the Care and Support Bill to ease the transition between children’s and adult social care provision. With the introduction of a child’s health and social care needs into the educational plan, any alterations to their social care support, for example, could have an impact on the nature of their educational support.
It is important to ensure that, if a child loses their EHCP before the age of 25, they do not experience a sudden loss of support. Mencap will therefore be exploring options for the proposals to help young adults reach their desired outcomes in life. As a result, Mencap will be looking to advance six key points.
Six points Mencap will raise
- EHCPs to continue to 25 for all recipients (not just those who are in education). This includes a duty on local authorities to provide support to get individuals back into education or training if that is what the young person requires in order to achieve their desired outcomes.
- Duty on local authorities to enable a smooth transition into adult services once an EHCP has finished
- Strengthened obligations on health and social care agencies to deliver the content of an EHCP
- Outcomes should not only be based on education but on health and social care as well.
- Duty on local authorities to have an integrated re-assessment of someone’s EHCP [which consists of representatives from children’s and adult’s social services] at the point when they pass from the children’s to the adult social care system. This would lead to a mandatory review of the plan and the various agencies needed to meet any change in someone’s needs.
- Assessments and plans should be conducted within certain and agreed national timeframes.
For more information about this, download the Mencap briefing on the draft SEN clauses of the Children and Families Bill.
Have your say
Mencap wants to hear parents' thoughts about the proposals. Complete our survey to tell us what you think, so we can pass your views onto the government.
Mencap responds to draft SEN proposals
Mencap has responded to the draft SEN proposals, submitting evidence to the Education Select Committee in the pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft provisions.
For more information about this, download the Mencap response to the pre legislative scrutiny pf the draft SEN provisions.
Education Select Committee publishes report on provisions
On Wednesday 19 December the Education Select Committee published its report on the draft SEN provisions, including Mencap's response to the proposals. The committee does not recommend any significant delay in the introducing of the bill, but makes a number of recommendations to the government on the draft provisions.
For more information about this, download the Mencap briefing on the Education Select Committee's report.