THE NEW APPROACH TO SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS

Teachers will be more accountable for the progress of their pupils under the special educational needs reforms.



Pupils and families to have more of a say:

The new system aims to put each young person and their family at the centre of discussions about the support offered. The government says that parents know their children best. You should ask parents to share their knowledge about how their child is developing, and involve them when writing school policies. It''s up to you to consult them so you can work out what is best for each pupil. Young people will also have new rights. When they reach 16, you should normally consult them directly – their views will take precedence over their parents'' views.

Education, health and care plans to replace statements:

Under the new rules, SEN statements and learning difficulty assessments (LDAs) will be replaced with education, health and care (EHC) plans taking children and young people up to the age of 25. From September, new assessments of SEN will follow the new rules, and support will be provided through an EHC plan.Existing statements and LDAs will remain in force until all children and young people have completed the transition. Transfers from statements to EHC plans should be completed within three years, so for pupils who already receive support, you''ll need to follow the old guidelines until September 2017.

School Action and School Action Plus to end:

School Action and School Action Plus – intervention schemes that tracked progress – have been removed in the draft code. Instead, there''ll be a single school-based category for children who need extra specialist support. You should set out interventions and expected outcomes for these pupils, and review progress each term. You must alsoinform parents when pupils without an EHC plan receive special support.


Optional personal budgets for young people:

Under the new system, young people and parents of pupils with an EHC plan can choose to hold a personal budget to buy in the support identified. The money will come from the high-needs funding block and will not normally affect the school''s notional SEN budget.

Sean Stockdale, editor of Nasen''s Special magazine, says that it''s not yet clear how this will affect a school''s SEN support. But by focusing on the outcomes of spending in your conversations with parents, you can retain some control over how money is spent. Buying in bulk is cheaper, so if money from personal budgets is pooled, children will receive better quality support.

Teachers must make sure every pupil makes progress:

The draft code makes teachers more accountable for the progress of all pupils, even those supported by specialist staff. As part of performance management, teachers should expect to be judged on how well they teach pupils with SEN. So you should check your teachers know how to identify SEN and support pupils with different needs, particularly those needs they see more frequently. Ideally, you''d also offer training to help with this.

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