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Government’s special educational needs reforms – where are we now? May 3, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in New releases, Special Educational Needs.
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We were very keen that the latest edition of Which School? for Special Needs – which has just been released – gave readers a progress report on the government’s plans to reform health and education support for children and young adults with special educational needs.

So we were pleased that Lorraine Peterson, chief executive of SEN organisation nasen, agreed to give her thoughts on the ongoing proposals, first revealed in the Green Paper Support and Aspiration: A New Approach to Special Educational Needs and Disability, in March 2011.

In an extract from her article in the 2012-13 edition of Which School? for Special Needs, Lorraine outlines the proposal for a single statutory assessment from age 0-25:

“The Statement replaced by an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan is currently being trialled by a number of Pathfinder local authorities. The proposal is that all pupils currently with a Statement will transfer to a plan which will have statutory duties to ensure that all support indicated in the plan will be in place. What will make this different is that the health and social care commitments embedded in the plan will be a legal requirement which will ensure a complete support package for the child and their family. This requires full co-operation from all three sectors – if this is not forthcoming then it will be no different to the current Statement. It is very clear that the Education, Health and Care Plan will be very effective for those children and young people who are identified with a SEND at birth or in very early childhood.

The move to a single school-based category for SEN to replace School Action and School Action Plus should reduce the bureaucracy, make schools more accountable and ensure that resources are targeted at the most vulnerable young people. However, the single assessment process will need to be very carefully managed within a setting. There will need to be some very clear national guidance, a revised SEN Code of Practice, clearly setting out the process for schools to access additional support through an EHC Plan.

There are currently some concerns in terms of funding for those children who are identified within this single assessment process. The education funding reforms being proposed only appear to address the funding support for those children with High Needs (those with a current Statement). The Government has invested very heavily in supporting those children from disadvantaged backgrounds (in receipt of free school meals) through their Pupil Premium but not all of those will have identified SEN and what happens to those who are identified as having SEN but are not in receipt of free school meals? Schools will need to show how they have used their Pupil Premium to raise the attainment of their disadvantaged groups. Those schools who use this money in an innovative and cost-effective way should be able to see progress for many of their pupils currently identified within the categories of School Action and School Action Plus. It is those who need more specialist and targeted support that are a concern at the moment.”

The new edition of Which School? for Special Needs also features articles from a number of other leading educators and SEN experts. For more information, have a read of this earlier post.

To buy a copy of the book, click here and visit our bookshop.

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