The SEN and Disability Pathfinders have been extended by 18 months to September 2014, Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson has said.

The Minister announced this while giving evidence to the Education Select Committee on the proposed SEN and disability reforms.

Timpson said: “The overwhelming view is that we are moving in the right direction, but we want to get this right and if that means listening for a little longer, then we will do that."

The 20 pathfinders, which cover 31 local authorities, their primary care trust and emerging Clinical Commissioning Group partners, are testing out the ideas in the SEN Green Paper including:
• Developing a new birth to 25 assessment process and single plan incorporating education, health and social care assessments
• The use of personal budgets.

Additionally, Timpson assured the committee that families' current protections under the existing statementing system will be carried through to the next system. This includes the right to request an assessment, which within the provisions will be extended to GPs also.

He also explained that the code of practice and regulations will help put "meat on the bones" of the framework outlined in the draft provisions.

Timpson added that the Department for Education is working closely with the Department of Health to ensure health plays a greater part in a new SEN and disability system. To this end, the Government will look at the NHS mandate and at redress in the NHS constitution, as well as ways there can be links between Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and Health and Wellbeing Boards.

Within education Timpson stated that the same duties and responsibilities will be on academies and free schools as well as maintained schools.