Learning disability charity Mencap has welcomed the Government’s publication of draft provisions to improve the support for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN).
The new publication follows on from the Government’s proposals to reform provision for children and young people with SEN in the green paper Support and Aspiration, published in March 2011, and the subsequent Next Steps document published in May 2012.
These new draft provisions provide for:
- A new duty for joint commissioning which will require local authorities and health bodies to take joint responsibility for providing services
- A requirement on local authorities to publish a local offer of services for disabled children and young people and those with SEN
- New protections for young people aged 16-25 in further education and a stronger focus on preparing them for adulthood
- Parents and young people, for the first time, to be entitled to have a personal budget
Further education colleges, for the first time, and all academies, including free schools, to have the same duties as maintained schools to safeguard the education of children and young people with SEN.
Sarah Teather, in a written statement made before she was replaced as minister for children and families in the Government reshuffle on September 4, said: “Too many parents have faced bureaucratic barriers. We are making it easier for parents to access help for their children. And we will empower parents and young people, giving them greater control over the services they receive, by putting them in charge of personal budgets.
“We are also increasing rights and protections for disabled young people in further education to prepare them for adulthood and paid work better. Taken together, our reforms package is giving young people with special educational needs the platform to succeed.”
Learning disability charity Mencap has welcomed the publication of the draft clauses and the opportunity to examine them before they are introduced into Parliament. Dan Scorer, senior campaigns and policy manager at Mencap, said:
“The emphasis on promoting integration across different agencies is particularly key, as we are aware of a number of instances in the current system where children with a learning disability and their families are experiencing a lack of coordination across their provision.
“However, we are concerned that the single assessment process and Education, Health and Care Plan will only be available to children who need educational support. This could result in those children who have a primary need for health or social care missing out on valuable support.
“We look forward to working with the government to find the best way to meet the needs of SEND pupils in both school and further education settings.”