In March 2011, Sarah Teather MP, Minister of State for Children and Families set out the government’s vision for reforming the existing system of support for children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) or who are disabled and their families in England.
The green paper Support and Aspiration reflects many of the issues and suggestions that were raised by disabled children and young people, their families and the professionals who work with them following a ‘Call for Views’ in September 2010.
The green paper makes wide-ranging proposals to respond to a current system that is not effectively joined-up, and as a result families with disabled children are forced to ‘battle the system’.
In summary, the Green Paper proposes:
- A new approach to identifying special educational needs through a single early years setting-based category and school-based category of SEN;
- A new single assessment process and Education, Health and Care Plan by 2014;
- Local authorities and other services will set out a ‘local offer’ of all services available;
- The option of a personal budget by 2014 for all families with children with a statement of SEN or a new Education, Health and Care Plan;
- To give parents a real choice of school, either a mainstream or special school; and
- To introduce greater independence to the assessment of children’s needs.
In September 2011 the government announced 20 pathfinders, covering 31 local authorities and their Primary Care Trust (PCT) partners to test out the main proposals in the Green Paper. For more information http://www.education.gov.uk/inthenews/inthenews/a00198359/20-pathfinders-to-test-out-proposals-in-the-special-educational-needs-and-disabilities-green-paper
The Green Paper also set out a vision for more effective use of the expertise in the voluntary and community sectors (VCS) in delivering services for children with special educational needs, disabled children and their families. In doing so it set out ambitions for VCS involvement at a local level as well as acting as catalysts for change nationally. A suite of contracts which support the delivery of SEN and Disability policy include:
- Parent Participation (For more information http://www.cafamily.org.uk/families/parentparticipation/index.html)
- Preparing for Adulthood (TBC);
- Parent partnership services (TBC);
- Short Breaks (TDC);
- Early Support and key working (TBC).
The Department has appointed a Strategic Partner for SEN and Disability, the
Council for Disabled Children to build capacity in the VCS sector and to provide the
Department with advice about the SEN and Disability sector. For more information http://www.ncb.org.uk/cdc/wider_projects/strategic_partner_work.aspx