On 4th October 2013 the Government issued draft versions of the SEN Regulations and SEN Code of Practice for consultation.
The consultation will run until 9th December 2013.
The SEN Regulations and SEN Code of Practice, along with the Part 3 of the Children and Families Bill that is currently progressing through Parliament, will form the new SEN Legal Framework from September 2014.
IPSEA have produced an analysis of the draft SEN Regulations and draft SEN Code of Practice by comparing it to what existing rights we have under the current SEN Regulations and SEN Code of practice. We were not looking to ensure that the underlying system stays exactly the same but that these rights are reflected in the new legislation. This is a commitment that the Government has always made.
IPSEA's detailed comparison between the current SEN Regulations and Code with the drafts outlines where existing rights will be preserved or lost.
The draft SEN Code of Practice will also replace other statutory guidance such as Inclusive Schooling Guidance (DFeS/0774/2001) and the Section 139A Learning Difficulties Assessment Guidance for Local Authorities. We have not specifically considered these in our analysis but would signpost you to the charity ALLFIE for specific comment on issues re inclusion.
We are pleased that some of our previous concerns have been addressed:
• Time limits have been introduced by which the LA have to make and inform parents of decisions made re their child's SEN - therefore a right of appeal against them is triggered. Although they are not as clearly understandable as in the current system this is progress.
• Procedural safe guards re Annual Review process have been introduced
• The right to a full, professional, multi-disciplinary re-assessment of a child’s needs in most circumstances remains
Outstanding issues include:
• Abolishing “School Action” and “School Action Plus” – leaving provision for the majority of children with SEN (83%) unregulated
• Abolishing the Individual Education Plans (IEP) - a standard means of reporting provision, progress and outcomes in school
• The unenforceability of the Local Offer
• Abolishing standardisation of the format of EHC Plans – which is likely to reduce clarity, and enforceability as each LA will be able to design its own.
• Allowing children to be placed in Special schools indefinitely without a statutory assessment of their needs being made or a EHC plan being issued as long as the LA review the placement once per term.
We will make our full response to the draft Regulations and draft SEN Code of Practice available as soon as we are able.
The Government consultation is open until 9th December 2013 please consider responding
There is a separate consultation on the draft SEN Code of Practice for children under 16 years old closing on the 20th December 2013 and children and young people 16 - 25 years old closing on the 20th December.
If you are concerned and you want to take action to protect these vital rights, it is more important than ever that you tell Parliament what you think.
Our Tribunal Helpline Gives next step advice on SEN appeals and disability discrimination claims to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. When you call we will also assess whether you need casework support. Please click here to book an appointment to get one of our advisers to call you back.