The Children and Families Act came into force in September 2014. Part of the Act includes reforms to SEND legislation, so there is a new system for providing services for children with additional needs and a revised SEND code of practice.
The Minister responsible for the reforms had discussions with parents on how the new system was working after 15 months. A summary of the discussion can be found here:-
The DfE is also organising a review of how schools and colleges are meeting the needs of children with SEN and Disabilities. We met them in May and gave our views. Their report will be published later in 2016.
The principles underpinning the new SEND Code of Practice are:-
‘-The involvement of children, parents and young people in decision making
-The identification of children and young people’s needs
-collaboration between education, health and social care services to provide support
-High quality provision to meet the needs of children and young people with SEN
-Greater choice and control for young people and parents
-Successful preparation for adulthood, including independent living and employment’
The SEND Code of Practice and parent guide can be found here, make sure you check for updates:-
SEND Code of Practice January 2015
Also an easy read guide from DfE/MENCAP
MENCAP easy read guide
All local authorities across England must now use the new SEND system.
As part of changing to the new system, Wandsworth looked at the things that were learnt in Pathfinder areas and set up five workstreams to implement the changes. Over time, these workstreams have merged to become three. PPA have 6 parent/carers Co-Chairing and participating in these workstreams:-
– Education, Health and Care plans and Personal Budgets
– Local Offer (available services and eligibility)/Joint Commissioning (Council and Health services working together)
– Preparing for Adulthood (transition to adult services)
A parent has also taken part in the development of WIKIs (on-line profile of a young person) and has found the process useful. The Council will be extending the roll out of WIKIs, so that the use of them becomes more familiar.
Parents that are taking part are providing feedback from each meeting and receive a small honorarium payment for their time.
Wandsworth have published their ‘Local Offer’ and it’s on their Family Information Website. Feedback on how it works in practice is really welcome and they have set up a system to allow you to do this on-line. There is a link to the Wandsworth Local Offer in our useful links section. There is a lot of background information on the Local Offer and we were involved in bringing it altogether in one place an on-line SEND’handbook’.
At the moment very few families have taken up the option of personal budgets, so unfortunately we can’t comment about how this is working in Wandsworth.
Wandsworth have also trialled including parents and parent representatives in their ‘Panel’ decision making process and now routinely include them. Parents will be invited to EHC Plan and Complex needs ‘Panel’ meetings if decisions about their child’s EHC Plan can not be made easily. Parents can opt out of having a parent rep present if they don’t want one.
If you’re about to start the new Education Health and Care Plan assessment process or your child’s existing Statement is due to be transferred to an EHC Plan, you may want to make use of Independent Supporters. In Wandsworth, this help is being provided by Contact a Family and Wandsworth Information, Advice and Support Service – links are provided in the useful links section. This service currently runs until end March 2017.
Understandably, there’s still concern around how the new systems work in practice, but these documents may provide some clarification:-
Other links to some useful information are:
Pathfinder Champions message to non-pf areas May 2013
www.cafamily.org.uk, www.parliamentuk/bills/2012-13childrenandfamilies.html, www.sendpathfinder.co.uk/foodforthought/, www.ipsea.org.uk, www.councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/childrenandfamiliesbill
In addition to the SEND changes, school funding was changed in April 2013. You can read more about the implication on funding in the Council for Disabled Children’s summary hereCDC funding briefing for parents – FINAL