|What should local authorities (LAs) do?
“The LA pathfinders have undertaken initial pilot studies on a number of the planned reforms and there is lots of information about their work on the SEND Pathfinder website. However, there were only 31 pathfinder LAs out of 152 in total. This means that many LAs haven’t been on that journey. What is key, is that they catch up with those pathfinders.”LAs will need to:
- Get their local offer out quickly.
- Make sure that it is relevant.
- Ensure that it is not just a list and that it has real meaning.
- Devise ways in which they start with the school offer and think about how the school offer moves into the local offer.
- Get their EHCP into schools, so that schools have a clear idea of what it looks like.
- Be transparent throughout the process.
- Build good relationships with SEND and health professionals.”
Under the new system, LAs will be required to publish a local offer. What might it look like?
“Every single local offer will be different. However, each local offer should be able to answer questions like:
- If I am a parent of a child with autism, what is available in my local area to support me and my child?
- What support can schools provide – is there a school with an autism base or specialist teachers?
- What voluntary sector organisations that support children with SEN operate in my area?
“A local offer list needs to be put together by the people who actually use those services, which is why the local offer must be reviewed frequently using service users. It mustn’t be top-down led by the LA. It’s about empowering the people who use those services to say what works and what doesn’t – a bit like an SEN version of Trip Advisor.”
The EHCPs will replace the Statement of SEN and Learning Difficulties Assessment. What do you think an EHCP will look like?
“They vary from LA to LA, but those that I have seen are more user friendly than the statement; they are closer to a pupil or family profile.
- They contain a lot more information about the pupil; their needs; their family; and what support they are receiving.
- There is a lot more input from families/parents and young people themselves.
- Like a pupil passport, the plan will be built up over time and will accompany them all the way through their schooling.
- The outcomes are based on the long-term objectives of each child and are centred on what they would hope to achieve when they are ready to leave the education system. It’s about their aspirations and what needs to be put in place for them to accomplish the desired outcomes by the time that they leave.
- Parents will also be eligible for a personal budget if they are in receipt of an EHCP.
“It’s not about prescribing a set of targets and a block of money for the school to deal with it. Ultimately, schools will be able to respond in their own way to their own particular set of circumstances. However, this approach has only been tested with a few families. By the end of this year, this new ‘untested’ approach will be progressively rolled out to a quarter of a million children who currently have statements. The length of this process will depend on each LA’s ability to undertake it. The original plan was that everybody would transfer to an EHCP on 1 September. However, as it stands, it is recognised that LAs may well need a few more years to achieve this.
“So what will a plan look like? It will really come down to each individual LA, so each and every one will be different. That is going to be a real challenge for schools where there are children across borders, or special schools that may take children from three or four LAs, or schools from the non-maintained independent sector who may take from several LAs.”
What impact will the code have on 0–25?
“I welcome the expansion from 16 to 25. Having said that, we are not sure what actual provision will be available. It’s great that the policy and legislation say that if young people stay in education until they are 25, then they can keep their plan. But what does the provision actually look like and who is going to pay for it? Do bear in mind that, at the moment, the post-16 and post-19 provision for young people with significant learning difficulties and disabilities is quite variable. The government has been very clear that schools can only go to 19 (special schools already do), so there will need to be additional provision for 19–25 – whether a specialist college, FE college or training within a workplace. The potential benefits are great, but I still want to know where the provision is going to come from.”
What impact will the Code have on the graduated response and the single category?
The old landscape
“Schools will have to get their heads around the fact that there is a single category and the teacher is responsible for all pupils, including those identified with SEN. The current system, which has been in place for many years, often relied on SENCO support for School Action children and the involvement of external support for School Action Plus.”
A new landscape
“The new approach will see the old process disappear and everything will come back to the class teacher.
“The new response is likely to be something like this:
- Those who are not making sufficient progress through high quality teaching should receive internal support.
- The SENCO and the school will need to make their own decision and if they require external support then they may need to fund this from their school budget.
- Many LAs are now only able to provide very limited free support to schools.
- Schools will still need to keep robust records of their children with SEN. This is an ideal opportunity to put in place an additional needs register to include all children in setting with an additional need – one of which is SEN.”
A new system
“There is a tendency for schools to latch onto the systems that have informed their work in the past. It’s an understandable response, but schools need to recognise the need for new systems that can be shown to be working.”
Different schools; different systems
- “Individual Education Plans (IEPs) have never been statutory and they are not mentioned anywhere in the new Code. If a school is setting effective targets for all children, then they will also be doing the same for children with SEN. In this instance, they can probably do away with IEPs for additional targets.
- However, in sharp contrast, some schools may find that IEPs are particularly effective for the teachers of the most vulnerable children.”
Freedom within a framework
“It’s about simple systems and what works for each school. They’re going to be told what they need to do, but not how to do it.
“Schools and colleges will need to:
- Think about the ‘How to’ themselves.
- Work together with other schools across their LA, so that they can compare, share, contrast and implement best practice.
“In short: if it works, carry it on, if it doesn’t, stop.”