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Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability - A consultation - closes 30th June 2011

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kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

Every child deserves a fair start in life, with the very best opportunity to succeed. Currently, life chances for the approximately two million children and young people in England who are identified as having a special educational need (SEN), or who are disabled, are disproportionately poor.

Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability makes wide-ranging proposals to respond to the frustrations of children and young people, their families and the professionals who work with them.

The vision for reform set out in this Green Paper includes wide ranging proposals to improve outcomes for children and young people who are disabled or have SEN, minimise the adversarial nature of the system for families and maximise value for money.

This publication marks the start of a four month period of consultation and a period of testing proposals in local areas from September 2011. The Department will work across government and with local and national partners to set out detailed plans by the end of the year.

The consultation will run from 9 March to 30 June, and the Department welcomes your views on the proposals.<

Visit the DfE website for more information<



  • Introduction
  • Early identification and assessment
  • Giving parents control
  • Learning and achieving
  • Preparing for adulthood
  • Services working together for families
  • Next steps
  • Consultation questions
  • How to get involved<<

kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

The government needs to radically change the law if local authorities are to implement the agenda set out in its Green Paper on children with special education needs and disabilities<, according to the Local Government Association.

"We really support what the government wants to do, but are concerned that we can't get there without some real structural change," said Donald Rae, policy adviser at the LGA. "These changes aren't just down to local authorities, health and schools.

"Local authorities want to work better with parents and other agencies, but sometimes legislation gets in the way of that and that doesn't really come out in the Green Paper. We need to have a radical look at legislation on a national level before these local changes can be made."

Rae used the example of the difference in policies about disabled children within schools and those within colleges. If parents want to complain about local authority services while their child is in school, they go through a tribunal process. If they have the same complaint when their child is in college, they need to go to an ombudsman.

"That's just one of many examples where it will be very difficult to create a single, coherent system around disabled children and young people while there is that kind of inconsistency," he said. "We totally agree about having a single plan, but there are some funding issues and legislative issues that are the government's responsibility that can get in the way."

Others, however, have said the government's lack of involvement is a positive move for the sector.

"It's better that the government isn't prescribing something and is letting the pathfinders take the lead - I would be concerned if it was the other way around," said Graham Jowett, education consultant for the Treloar Trust, which runs a school and college for disabled young people in Hampshire.

"It's a good approach so long as the government shows they are receptive to looking at new ways of working."

Jowett said the government's hands-off approach would enable the voluntary sector to take a more dominant role, moving away from the emphasis on local authorities.

"We're very taken with the comments involving the voluntary and community sector because we do feel we have a lot of expertise to share," he said. "I wouldn't want to see local authorities dominating the pathfinders - in the current climate, the involvement of the voluntary sector is key."

The Green Paper, published today, said a single assessment process for children with disabilities and special educational needs will replace the current statementing system.

The single assessments are expected to be piloted in 25 local authorities from September this year and will see children given a single care plan including health, social care and education support.<

kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

A single assessment process for children with disabilities and special educational needs will replace the current statementing system, a government green paper< revealed today.

The single assessments are expected to be piloted in 25 local authorities from September this year and will see children given a single care plan including health, social care and education support.

However, currently there is a lack of clarity over who will be responsible for co-ordinating the care plan although the government is considering how voluntary groups might co-ordinate the package of support to ensure greater independence from local councils.

At the green paper launch this morning, children's minister Sarah Teather said: "We're going to have to work through the detail of exactly what we're going to pilot. I think there will be a variety of different models and it may not necessarily be that the voluntary sector actually does the assessments.

"There are all sorts of options that we would like to try out to see what works and what gives parents confidence that they're getting a fair deal from the system."

The minister added that the government wanted to encourage local authorities to form consortia, working together to overcome the risks and expense involved in children with SEN and disabilities.

"We really want to encourage local authorities to work together on a bigger scale," she said. "If you have a very expensive family moving between services and agencies, that is a big risk for local authorities.Those authorities that have already come together have found that there are ways in which they can mitigate that risk and make things much better for families."

Teather did not give more detail about the process by which local authorities would function in this way.


Parents will be included in the assessment process and will have a legal right, from 2014, to have control of the funding for the plan under a personal budget.

Teather said: "Parents and voluntary organisations have given us overwhelming examples where they have felt let down by local services.

"At the moment there is an appalling situation where public money is being wasted as children are growing out of equipment, like wheelchairs, before they even arrive. The new single assessment process and plan will tackle this issue and mean that parents don't feel they have to push to get the services they are entitled to."

Other proposals include:

● Ensure assessment and plans run from birth to 25 years old.

● Replace the existing complicated School Action and School Action Plus system with a simpler new school based category to help teachers focus on raising attainment.

● Overhaul teacher training and professional development to better help pupils with special educational needs and to raise their attainment

● Give parents a greater choice of school and give parents and community groups the power to set up special free schools.

Srabani Sen, chief executive of Contact a Family, said the consultation proves a "very useful starting point for discussion" but added that there are "questions that need to be answered on how these proposals would work in practice".

"The introduction of a simplified assessment process has the potential to make lives less stressful for families. However the Green Paper is not clear about where responsibility lies to ensure that a joined up package of support is delivered for disabled children and their families, and that those carrying out assessments have the right skills and knowledge.

"Professionals involved in a child's care must be made accountable if they do not deliver and there is no clear indication of how this would work in the Green Paper. Our own research What Makes My Family Stronger found that 60% of families have a poor or unsatisfactory experience of being listened to by the professionals involved in their child's care.<