Independent Support

Changes to Special Educational Needs

Independent Support

The Children and Families Act 2014 has been described as the biggest reform to child welfare legislation in 30 years. It includes changes to special educational needs, health and social care and will affect all children and young people with special educational needs under the age of 25.

What is an Education, Health and Care Plan, or EHC Plan?
Under the new Act, statements of special educational needs for children in schools and learning difficulty assessments for young people in further education and training, will be replaced with a single combined Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC plan). An EHC plan will cover children and young people from birth to aged 25 and will include information about health and social care needs as well as special educational needs in one single document. This will extend the current age of eligibility for those with a statement of SEN and still in education from 16 to 25. EHC plans are prepared and maintained by the local authority.

What are the other changes under the new system?
Under the new Act there is an emphasis on:
• wishes and feelings and participation in decision-making for children, young people and their parents/carers
• aspirations and goals and improving outcomes for children and young people and transition through to adulthood
• joint planning / commissioning of services

Some of the other key changes include:
• School action and school action plus will be abolished and replaced with SEN support which will extend to colleges and sixth forms. Gloucestershire County Council have introduced a 7 stage Graduated Pathway. An animated clip to explain this process can be accessed on Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GYCcJVnPdY&feature=youtu.be

• The new scheme will cover academies, independent schools and colleges and institutions must admit pupils where named in the EHC plan.
• The timescale for completion of the assessment process for issuing a final EHC plan is 20 weeks instead of the current 24 weeks for a statement.
• The First Tier (Special Educational Needs and Disability) Tribunal can consider appeals up to the age of 25 but mediation must be considered before making an appeal.
• Personal budgets can now be made available for SEN education provision and, where agreed, Direct Payments can be made available to pay for this provision.

In addition, each local authority must publish a Local Offer which sets out in one place information about provision they expect to be available across education, health and social care for children and young people in their area who have SEN or are disabled. The link for Gloucestershire’s Local Offer is
http://www.glosfamiliesdirectory.org.uk/kb5/gloucs/glosfamilies/localoffer.page

When will the changes be introduced?
From 1 September 2014 no new assessments for statements (SEN) or learning difficulty assessments (LDA) will be offered by local authorities. All new requests for an assessment from this date will be considered under the new legislation and those requiring support will receive it through an EHC plan. The reformed mediation and appeals process, and the consideration of a personal budget for those with an EHC plan will also be available from this date.

Children and young people with existing statements and learning difficulty assessments will begin to transfer to the new system in accordance with the transitional arrangements put in place by each local authority. This will be set out in their Local Transition Plan. Gloucestershire’s can be found here; http://search3.openobjects.com/mediamanager/gloucs/glosfamilies/files/glos_transition_plan_-_jp_v_4_2__1.pdf

The legal force of statements and learning difficulty assessments will not be withdrawn until all children and young people have completed the transition to EHC plans. This will be September 2016 for learning difficulty assessments and September 2018 for statements.

Useful links:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/344424/Special_educational_needs_and_disabilites_guide_for_parents_and_carers.pdf

Help is at hand!

Carers Gloucestershire are delivering Independent, free and impartial support help parents/Carers and young people, negotiate their way through this new process.

In partnership with the long established Parent Partnership Service provided by Britt Fox and Karin Young, Lisa Davenport has been recruited as Independent Support Coordinator.

Who is Independent Support for?
Independent Support is free, confidential and impartial support for:
• Parents of a child/young person who has a statement of educational needs as they transfer on to an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
• Parents of a child/young person who has educational needs that are not being met within school/college or nursery and would like them to be assessed for an EHCP
• Young people with a Statement of Educational Needs or a Learning Disability Assessment (LDA) and will be transforming to an EHCP

Independent Supporters can:
• Support parent/carers and young people to have their views heard and to ensure the aspirations of children and young people are at the core of the plan
• Helping parent/carers and young people to understand the EHCP process
• Supporting parent/carers and young people to gather information for the transfer meeting
• Ensure parent/carers, children and young people are engaged in decisions from the outset
• Support parents to complete forms particularly if this is difficult for them because of disability or literacy difficulties or if English is not their first language

How it is being delivered in Gloucestershire
Carers Gloucestershire as the Independent Support Agency are working with three user-led disability organisations, DROP (Disabled Responsible, Organised People), PING (Physical Inclusion Network Gloucestershire) and Gloucestershire Voices (by and for people with Learning Disabilities).
Carers Gloucestershire will be supporting parents directly either through staff or parent volunteers.
PING, DROP and Gloucestershire Voices will be supporting young people with SEN or disabilities who have new rights under the legislation – ie those with the mental capacity to engage in the process and express their views.
Referral process
Independent Support is being delivered by Carers Gloucestershire alongside the Parent Partnership Service.
Parents/Carers and Young People (14+) can contact us directly or practitioners can refer via:

Gloucestershire Parent Partnership Service, Britt Fox & Karin Young
Freephone: 0800 158 3603
Email: pps@carersgloucestershire.org.uk

Carers Gloucestershire – Independent Support Coordinator, Lisa Davenport
Freephone: 0300 111 9000
Email: ldavenport@carersgloucestershire.org.uk