Changes to Special Educational Needs statementing process

The current statementing process is changing from September 2014. The government wants to change the system because they say it is too bureaucratic and takes too long for children to receive the support they need.

The intention is to replace the current Statement with Education, Health and Social Care Plan (EHCP). In theory these will provide support from Education, Health and Social Services but it is unclear as to the extent of Health and Social Services input or, perhaps more importantly, how much of it will be enforceable. It is expected that all children who currently have Statements will automatically qualify for an EHCP.

The government has drafted the Children & Families Bill which is currently working its way through parliament. You can see the draft SEN Code of Practice and regulations here.

The main changes proposed are as follows:

  • The Statement will be replaced by an EHC Plan;
  • There is no set format for the EHC Plan. This means that each Local Authority (LA) or school could have their own layout;
  • The EHCP will include young adults up to 25 years if they are in further education – not higher education (currently the Statement goes up to 19 years if at school);
  • School Action and School Action Plus is to be replaced by a graded system which will be set by the LA. Each LA will have to publish its ‘Local Offer’, i.e. provision that is available locally. This will differ across LAs;
  • A new Code of Practice;
  • The statementing process to be shortened to 20 weeks (instead of the current 26 weeks);
  • Parents with an EHCP will be able to request a personal budget which means that they will be able to directly buy in the support identified in the EHCP.

UPDATE: 29 January 2014 – The Department of Education set up pathfinders (LAs) to test out the new system and issued an evaluation report on 29 January 2014 with its findings, you can read it here.

Five pathfinders contributed to the above report: Darlington, Greenwich, Southampton, West Sussex and Wigan. In essence the Pathfinders appeared to retain their previous approaches to eligibility which means that if your child would have had a Statement before the changes then she/he is likely to have an EHCP. It is still unclear, however, how the EHCP will be coordinated across different agencies (i.e. Education, Health and Social Care).

UPDATE: April 2014 – The Bill is likely to become law by April 2014 with the new system to start in September 2014.

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James' mother, Boyes Turner client

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