SEN Reforms (2014)
The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced major changes for disabled children and young people with Special Educational Needs. The Act extended the SEN system from birth to the age of 25, giving children, young people and their parents greater control and choice in decisions.
What do the SEN reforms mean?
The reforms are the biggest in 30 years. The key principles are:
- A single, simpler birth-to-25-years assessment process. The Education, Health and Care Plan has replaced SEN statements, and, where applicable, the Learning Difficulties Assessment (LDA) for young people still in education or skills training.
- Families have the option of personal budgets.
- Improved co-operation is in place between all the services that support children and their families. Local authorities and health authorities are required to work together to jointly commission services for children and young people with SEN.
- Each Local Authoritiy produces a Local Offer, setting out the services that are available for disabled children and young people.
When did the SEN changes take place?
The Children and Families Act received Royal Assent in February 2014 and the Department for Education published a revised SEN Code of Practice by April 2014.
Some areas are piloting the use of single plans. Statements are in the process of being phased out and are being replaced by Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessments and plans.
Which children will get an Education, Health and Care Plan?
Most children and young people with a statement or LDA will be given an Education, Health and Care Plan. The plans are only available for children with severe and complex needs. All families with an approved EHC plan have a legal right to request a personal budget, if they choose. Parents can also directly purchase support elements identified in the plan. The support provides is the same, regardless of whether parents opt for a personal budget or not. The plan offers legal protection in the same way that a statement or LDA did previously.