June 2018

Our response explains that the Children and Families Act 2014 (the Act) introduced a framework for supporting children and young people with SEND that requires a holistic approach to meeting their needs. This is dependent on the joint-working between the education, health and social care teams of a local area.  In our view, there has been a failure to put in place the necessary infrastructure to achieve this. The current system relies on parents and young people appealing to the SEND Tribunal to enforce their legal rights.  Many do not do so because they are unaware of, or misinformed about, their rights or because they find the process of legally challenging their local authority too daunting. 

The law creates a strong set of rights for children and young people with SEND and their families; it is not the Act that is the problem, but its implementation. The issues with the legislation arise from the devolved, fragmented and often inaccurate application of the law by local authorities. This is compounded by a severe shortage of funding across education, health and social care. 

In particular, our response highlights the recurring problems we see in our casework such as; local authorities  failing to apply the correct legal test for an EHC needs assessment;  the variation in format of EHC plans, which often fail to follow the thread of “need, provision, outcome”; the provision in EHC plans being insufficiently specific;  a lack of co-operation and joined up working between education, health and social care;  local authorities failing to properly fund the provision in EHC plans; persistent failures in complying with the law in the transfer of Statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments to EHC plans, resulting in poor quality EHC plans; failing to support children with SEND who are out of school due to illness, exclusion or otherwise; and, no meaningful change to the support provided for young people aged 19-25. 

For IPSEA’ full response, see here.