Well, 1 September 2014 ushered in a new area for the SEN framework; but it felt like it came and went in the blink of an eye.
There did not seem to be very much media coverage about it, which was strange given the fact that the subject had made so much ‘noise’ during the past four years. To be honest, it felt like a bit of a ‘damp squib’.
During the past couple of months I have been attending seminars & conferences and also providing training to many people, both parents and professionals, about the new SEN framework. Somewhat surprisingly though, I have found that, overall, although everybody is still getting to grips with what they need to understand and/or do, the general sentiment seems to be that the changes were not as catastrophic as people thought that they might be. In some ways, it seems to be ‘business as usual’.
But, paradoxically, there is also a feeling that the SEN system is very different now to what it was and there is lots of work to be done (for example, transferring 'Statements' to 'Education, Health & Care (EHC)' plans.)
Some people are already becoming concerned that many Local Authorities (LAs) said that they were ready for the changes (I have heard it said that the figure was 90%) but, in hindsight, that this was perhaps not the case. This means that the Government was possibly proceeding with unrealistic expectations and planned timescales.
There seems to be a big concern (from both parents and LAs) about the process of transferring ‘Statements’ to ‘EHC Plans' and how long this is going to take in practice. As there is a lot for me to say about what should happen during the transitional period (September 2014-April 2018), rather than me using up space here discussing it, I have created a dedicated page where you can read more here: 'Transitioning 'Statements' To 'EHC Plans'
Another example though is that it appears that there is not yet as much as was hoped would be available out there about post-16 provision (i.e. FE colleges/apprenticeships/training, etc.), although I appreciate that I may just not be personally aware of it yet.
Some of the main issues that I am already finding people asking me about are in relation to post-16 and mental capacity issues, so I have dedicated the next section of this update entirely to this.
by Douglas Silas, specialist SEN Solicitor