The SEND Reforms Explained

Jill Davies from Contact a Family looks at the changes under the new Children and Families Act. This article is taken from our Summer newsletter. You can download a PDF version of the full newsletter or read it online on Issuu

The basics

From Sept 2014 there will be changes to the way young people with special educational needs will be supported. The changes are introduced in a new law called the Children and Families Act 2014. A new SEN Code of Practice will give guidance on how the law should be put into practice.

What are the changes?

Statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments will be replaced by Education Heath and Care (EHC) plans. This will be a legal document describing a young person’s educational needs, the special educational help they will get, and the place which can meet those needs. The plan will also describe any health and social care provision the young person needs because of their SEN.

From September 2014, no new statements or LDAs will be available. In stages, over the next few years, children with an existing statement will have their statement transferred to an EHC plan. There will be agreed procedures for the changeover and parent carers and young people will have a say in these. Existing rights, for example rights of appeal, will continue during the transfer.

0-25 Education, Health and Care Plans can continue to support young people up to the age of 25 if the local authority considers that the young person needs more time to complete their education or training.

Families with children or young people going through a statutory assessment leading to an education, health and care plan may also be able to get help from anIndependent Supporter – someone who doesn’t work for the local authority who can help parents and carers, and young people, through the process. 

A young person or their family may be able to ask for a personal budget to buy support to meet the educational needs in an EHC plan.

Challenging a decision

Families will have the right to ask for mediation if they are not happy with anything in their child’s EHC plan. As they can with a statement, families will be able to appeal to tribunal about the description of their child’s special educational needs or the extra help to meet those needs. Families will be asked to consider mediation before an appeal. There will be separate processes for challenging the health and social care parts of the plan.

Jill Davies is an education specialist adviser at Contact a Family.

Further information

If you are worried about your individual child, please contact your local Parent Partnership Service for advice and support. See:

You can call Contact a Family’s freephone helpline 0808 808 3555 (9.30am–5pm Mon-Fri) email:

There is a range of “mythbusters” and other resources to help clarify concerns parent carers may have. You can find them on the Council for Disabled Children website.

The new SEND Gateway collects together resources aimed at education professionals including many on the new SEND reforms (and some resources from us)

This article is taken from our Summer newsletter. You can download a PDF version of the full newsletter or read it online on Issuu.

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