Standard Note - "The Green Paper on Special Educational Needs and Disability" - Summary
- Updated 22 June 2012
- 22 pages
- Regarding legislation to be introduced in 2013
Christine Gillie provides a foreword to the Standard Note which is then split into 7 sections:
1) Background: quick overview of the current SEN system
2) The Green Paper
- The Green Paper’s proposals
- A selection of initial reaction to the Green Paper
- Oral evidence taken by the Education Select Committee
- Westminster Hall debate on SEN
4) Direct payments pilot scheme
5) The Queen’s Speech
6) Government’s response to the Green Paper and next steps
7) A revised SEN code of practice
1) Background: quick overview of the current SEN system
The current SEN system
- Children have special educational needs if they need special educational provisions to be made for a learning difficulty.
- Local Authorities (LAs) and schools have legal responsibilities towards children with SEN which can be found in the Education Act 1996, and in the statutory Code of Practice on the Assessment and Identification of Special Educational Needs.
- Parents can state which school they wish their child to attend in the maintained sector.
- LAs must agree to this school unless:
- the school is unsuitable for the named child or
- the placement would affect the efficient education of others or the efficient use of resources.
- When a school is named on a child’s statement the school must admit that child.
- If parents are not satisfied with the child’s placement in the maintained sector they may state their preference to the LA.
- If this is not agreed they may apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) to challenge SEN assessments and statements.
- The Local Government Ombudsman may also be contacted. They deal with complaints regarding the processes taken by the LA e.g. complaints due to inefficient timescales or where necessary provisions are not provided in the statement.
The call for reform
- In July 2006 the Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families reported growing concerns and lack of confidence in the current SEN system.
- The Lamb Inquiry researched how parental confidence in the SEN assessment process could be improved. And reports of the findings were published here: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/lambinquiry
- An Ofsted review (2010) found that:
- Over 1 in 5 children (1.7 million pupils) were identified as having a Special Educational Need.
- The amount of children with a statement of SEN had slightly decreased from 3%-2.7%
- By improving teaching and focusing on individual improvement goals, half of the children identified for School Action would no longer be identified as having special educational needs.
- The implications of the Ofsted review were that:
- The quality of the assessment should be improved
- Additional support needs to be effective
- Teaching and support should be improved
- Strategies should be developed for specialist provisions
- Legislation should be made clear and accessible for parents and schools
- Special Educational Needs should not be identified too quickly if better teaching may actually be the solution
- Service providers should follow an outcome-led approach
- The review found that the current SEN system was incredibly complex and thus any further changes should simplify the system.
- The language used in SEN should also be simplified and the term ‘special educational needs’ should be used less widely
2) The Green Paper
- Sarah Teather, the Children’s Minister, stated that the Green Paper on SEN would be published. Responses to this paper were requested in DFE paper call for evidence in September 2010.
- The Green Paper wanted:
- Better educational outcomes and life outcomes for people with SEN
- Better early intervention
- Greater choice for parents i.e. for school placements and support services
- A holistic approach for the child and their family combining support from education, social care and health
- Improvement of assessment systems for easier support access for parents.
- The Green Paper Support and Aspiration: a new approach to Special Educational Needs and Disability was published on 9 March 2011.
- Consultations for the Green Paper took place from 9 March until 30 June 2011
- The proposals were as follows:
- Parents should be included in the assessment process
- Parents should have a legal right to control the funding for their child’s support
- A single assessment process of education, health and care so that all support is together as one package.
- Assessments and plans should run from birth until 25 years old
- The School Action and Action Plus programmes should be replaced by a school based strategy to raise attainment
- Teacher training should be overhauled to improve pupils with special educational needs’ attainment
- Voluntary groups should be included in the package of support
- Parents should have a greater choice of school placements for their child
- Parents should have the power to set up special free schools
- The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, then outlined his thoughts on the Green Paper and the need for reforms:
Case for change
- Children with SEN or with a disability have poor life chances compared to those without a special educational need. They are twice more likely to be out of education, employment or training than their counterparts.
- There is not enough support for those affected particularly as the system is confusing and adversarial
- The previous reports have found that parents feel they are battling for support whilst children are frustrated by the lack of help available to them.
- Children’s support needs are often identified late.
- Parents have limited choices about the best schools and support for their child
- The reforms are founded on the opinions of families and organisations which specialise in the sector.
- Reform shall be radical with better life outcomes and greater parental and organisational control.
- More help shall be given to professionals to identify and meet the child’s needs at an early stage. This shall be done by joining up education, health and social care services as one package of support.
- A new identifying method of SEN: A single early years setting-based category and a school-based category.
- A new single assessment process and “Education, Health and Care Plan” by 2014. This will replace the current statutory SEN assessment and statement and put all of the child’s support needs into one package. But the Education, Health and Care Plan will provide the same statutory protection as the current Statement of SEN.
- Parents will be given more control over the choice of school and support services. With more transparency in services.
- LAs and other services will provide easy-to-understand information for parents about all services available to support children and their families.
- The choice of a personal budget by 2014 for children with a statement or an Education, Health and Care Plan.
- Professionals and local communities will be given the power to use their judgment, work together and have more influence over local services.
- Give parents a greater choice in school placements. More information should be given about the schools available.
- Parents’ preferences for any state-funded school (including special schools, Academies and free schools) shall be met unless:
- The child’s needs would not be met
- The placement would interfere with the efficient education of other children or
- It would be an inefficient use of resources
- Parents should be able to take over special schools
- Include the voluntary and community sector in the assessment process
- Local pathfinders have been used to test the best ways to achieve the governmental reforms.
- Detailed plans will be made by the Government by the end of 2011.
- There were mixed reactions to the Green Paper.
- The single system for the assessment of needs and the training of staff was generally supported.
- Some were however concerned about funding and the actual delivery of support in different schools.
- Concerns were also raised about redefining SEN and the possibility that this may leave children with less support.
- Lorraine Petersen, Chief Executive of the National Association for Special Educational Needs (NASEN) supported the Green Paper and welcomed the holistic assessment approach, the emphasis on training for school staff and SENCOs.
- Srabani Sen, Chief Executive of Contact a Family, also welcomed the Green Paper as a useful starting point for debate.
- Baroness Shireen Ritchie, Chairman of the Local Government Association Children and Young People Board, approved the creation of a single system but emphasised the importance of sufficient funding for such a system to work.
- Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) also gave support to the single assessment process but was concerned about the future of local strategic planning for SEN provisions. These provisions are expensive and the LAs have played an essential role in organising such provisions in the past.
- Voice, the teacher’s union, generally welcomed the Green Paper but was unsure whether a single holistic assessment could be achieved in reality.
- Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, argued that the voluntary sector cannot replace the LAs role in gaining special educational provisions for children which is supported by high quality specialist advice. She also felt that teachers, even with the proposed training, could not replace central advisory teams or SENCO in schools.
- Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the teacher’s union, was concerned that the reforms were focused on cuts rather than for the good of meeting the needs of children with SEN. And that an open debate should be had for the Government to prove otherwise.
- The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) were also concerned that children with SEN will lose out because of cuts. This funding is necessary to provide the support needed by such children. Staffing levels and training were felt also needed to be addressed.
- Sarah Teather, the Minister for Children and Families, responded to criticisms by stressing that parental choice was the fundamental idea of the Green Paper.
- On the 17 May 2011 the House of Commons Education Committee published oral evidence about the SEN Green Paper.
- Graham Stuart, chair of the Education Committee, noted the broad support for the Green Paper. The main concern was the availability of resources to make the reforms a reality.
- Sarah Teather responded that resources were available the only difference was that resources will be used more efficiently.
- This will be achieved by encouraging better communication between parents and LAs to avoid the wasting of resources in fighting the system
- Debate on SEN in Westminster Hall on 6 September 2011
- There were 2,400 responses to the Green Paper consultations and the government were looking through all of them
- A formal response was to be published at the end of 2011
- Sarah Teather stressed that parents could request a non state-funded school placement and the LA would have to take the representations into account when making its decisions on placements.
- If non-maintained schools and independent schools do not want to take on a child, legislation will not force this placement.
- The National Association of Independent Schools and Non-Maintained Special Schools are submitting evidence on the costs of school funding which will be used when considering what to do with high-cost pupils.
- Local Authorities must make a placement decision on an individual basis.
- Personal budgets would allow parents to buy provisions in the independent sector but it would be unlikely to apply to the whole school place. This is currently being tested through the pathfinder schemes.
- On 30 June 2011 LAs bid to become Green Paper pathfinders
- Pathfinders test the main proposals from the Green Paper:
- the single assessment process;
- the ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’;
- the greater engagement of the voluntary sector;
- and the use of personal budgets.
- 20 Pathfinders were announced, covering 31 local authorities
- A list of the pathfinders is available on the DFE website
- The pathfinders test how to reform the system in the best way
- The existing system will continue alongside the new schemes during the testing.
- The pathfinders have 3 common objectives:
- to develop an assessment process (0-25 years) and a single plan incorporating education, health and social care assessments,
- to explore how the voluntary and community sector could improve the system;
- and to ensure that all of the family are fully engaged.
- The Education Bill would be amended to allow the pathfinders to conduct such testing under the current existing legislation.
- Direct payments pilot scheme
- The pilot scheme is contained in section 75 of the Education Act 2011.
- Section 75 allows for:
- LAs may make a direct payment to secure goods and services for a child with a statement of SEN.
- Direct payments may only be made according to the pilot scheme.
- The Secretary of State may make pilot schemes and determine their content
- These pilot schemes have a maximum time limit of 2 years.
- The scheme may be extended to 4 years from the date of the Act.
- Special Educational needs (Direct Payments)(Pilot scheme) Order 2011 details the pilot scheme
- DFE Explanatory Memorandum outlines that:
- The pilot scheme allows direct payments to be given to the parent of a child under the age of 16 or if the child is 16 or over and has sufficient capacity s/he will receive the direct payments.
- The pilot scheme has safeguards in place including information and advice being made available about direct payments
- Direct payments are voluntary. The LA must obtain written consent from the person who handles the direct payment.
- The LA needs to be satisfied that the provision needed by the child or young person can be provided for by direct payments.
- The direct payment must be sufficient to meet the full cost of the agreed provision
- LAs must consider whether the direct payment is an efficient use of its resources.
- LAs must monitor the use of direct payments within 3 months after the first payment has been made, after 1 year of their use and then at appropriate intervals.
- It should be recognised that not all families wish to participate in such a scheme. Particularly because managing a personal budget is complex which may add to the stress for parents.
- The Queen’s Speech
- The Queen announced the introduction of the Children and Families Bill which would include the SEN reforms
- The Department for Education’s press notice outlined the key measures as:
- Replacing SEN statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments (for 16-25 year olds) which a single, simpler 0-25 assessment process
- The introduction of an Education, Health and Care Plan from 2014
- The provision of statutory protection for further education to be extended from 16 to 25.
- The requirement for LAs to publish the local support available
- The right to a personal budget for children with a EHC Plan or statement
- The introduction of mediation for disputes
- Giving children the right to appeal if unsatisfied with their support
- Interim evaluation reports on the pathfinders are due in summer to late autumn 2012. The final report will be in 2013.
- Government’s response to the Green Paper and next steps
- The government then set out the next steps: Support and aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability - progress and next steps.
- The Children and Families Bill will be introduced in this session of Parliament
- The Government aims to publish a draft Bill on the SEN measures for consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny.
- Michael Gove said that:
- The draft Bill will be informed by the pathfinders’ experience.
- It will be published in the summer 2012.
- Reforms are still intending to be implemented in 2014
- The Bill would include provision for:
- The publishing of local offers of support
- A single assessment process and Education, Health and Care Plan from 0-25 years
- Person budgets to be offered to all families with an Education, Health and Care plan
- Ensuring that services are jointly provided by LAs and the voluntary sector
- Parents to be able to express a preference and have it considered whether it is a state funded school or a maintained school;
- Families to mediate before they appeal to the tribunal;
- And it will give children the right to appeal to the tribunal.
- A revised SEN code of practice
- There will be a revised code of practice when the SEN framework is changed
- The Children and Families Bill will revise the definition of special educational needs (SEN) to reflect the change to a 0-25 year system of assessment.
- The draft of the Bill will be scrutinised later this year.
- The SEN code of practice will be revised to give clearer guidance on what is a special educational need.
Children and Families Bill to give families support when they need it most
Press notice date: 9 May 2012
Updated: 9 May 2012
- The Bill (Children and Families Bill) would introduce a single, simpler assessment process for children with SEN or disabilities, backed up by new Education, Health and Care Plans - part of the biggest reforms to SEN provision in 30 years.
- The Bill is expected to be introduced early in 2013.
Special Education Needs
The key measures are:
- replacing SEN statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments (for 16- to 25-year-olds) with a single, simpler 0-25 assessment process and Education, Health and Care Plan from 2014
- providing statutory protections comparable to those currently associated with a statement of SEN to up to 25 in further education – instead of it being cut off at 16
- requiring local authorities to publish a local offer showing the support available to disabled children and young people and those with SEN, and their families
- giving parents or young people with Education, Health and Care Plans the right to a personal budget for their support
- introducing mediation for disputes and trialing giving children the right to appeal if they are unhappy with their support.
The legislation would draw on evidence from 20 local pathfinders set up in September 2011. The interim evaluation reports are due in summer and late autumn 2012, with a final report in 2013.