This is a transition time for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities – new legislation in the form of a green paper – “Support and Aspiration” is advancing through the necessary stages and considerable changes are promised to be implemented by 2014. An understanding of the historical perspective and the future proposals contained in “Support and Aspiration” will therefore be helpful.
Definitions: (From the current SEN Code of practice 2001)
The Educational Act 1981 laid down a legal definition of Special Educational Needs in schools. That definition was repeated in the Educational Act 1993 and in the consolidation Education Act 1996.
According to law:
1. A child has special educational needs if he or she has a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.
2. A child has a learning difficulty if he or she:
a) has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age
b) has a disability which either prevents or hinders the child from making use of educational facilities of a kind provided for children of the same age in schools within the area of the local education authority
c) is under five and falls within the definition at (a) or (b) above.
The following children fall outside the legal definition of Special Educational Needs
a) Those whose language at home is different from the language in which they are taught at school
b) ‘gifted’ children
Summarized from https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/Green-Paper-SEN.pdf
The Green Paper, Support and Aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability, sets out the government’s intention to radically reform the current system for identifying, assessing and supporting children and young people who are disabled or have SEN, and their families.
The Green Paper proposals and the Government’s wider reforms in education and health will make the best use of limited resources through better planning, streamlining assessment processes, making the system less adversarial and focusing on achieving better outcomes.
Reforms are already being tested through local pathfinders, developing the knowledge and skills that will be needed for their successful implementation, and making sure that the right measures are in place to hold services to account. The lessons learnt from the pathfinders will help shape the changes.
In the Green Paper the government pledges by 2014 to introduce: • A single assessment process which is more streamlined, better involves children, young people and families and is completed quickly; • An Education, Health and Care Plan which brings services together and is focused on improving outcomes; and • An offer of a personal budget for families with an Education, Health and Care Plan.
The government intends to introduce legislation through a Children and Families Bill to implement the changes to the law required for the Green Paper reforms. A draft bill will be published in summer 2012 for consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny.
It is not yet clear how the changes will impact schools or what adjustments will be required in administration and “grass-roots” provision. Tutors will inform students of changes as they emerge.