The Children’s and Families Bill is expected to come into force some time after September 2014. The bill will bring changes that will greatly improve the way that young people with special educational needs and their families are identified, assessed and supported.
One of the aims of the reforms is to make sure there is a clear focus for outcomes for children and young people. There will be a new single statement called an education, health and care plan (EHC), which will take an all-round, longer term view than the previous statementing process, detailing the support a young person will need throughout their childhood and into adulthood. This will include things like them finding paid employment, enabling them to live independently and be part of their community.
In addition parents’ views will carry much more weight. There will be increased choice, opportunity and control for parents and young people. This includes a greater range of schools and colleges which parents can express a preference for. Parents are now able to request placements at specialist independent schools and post-16 institutions, which are highly resourced and provide highly individualised education placement.
Brian Jones is chief executive officer of the SENAD Group, which runs special needs schools, transition services, community support services and adult residential homes across the UK. Services run by the group include Alderwasley Hall School and Sixth Form, Derbyshire, which works with children and young people with autism and speech and language difficulties, Bladon House School, Staffordshire, which works with children and young people with moderate learning difficulties, autism and challenging behaviours, Pegasus School, Derbyshire, which works with children and young people with moderate to severe learning difficulties and very challenging behaviour, Aran Hall School, Gwynedd, which works with children and young people with a range of learning disabilities and challenging behaviour and The West Midlands Learning Campus which incorporates Rowden House School, Winslow Court adult homes and Cedar Lodge transition services. The group also has a community support team who assist people of all ages to live the life they choose.
Brian said about the reforms:
“These reforms are fantastic news for children, young people and their families. Getting good quality education and support is a fundamental right and I welcome any reforms that make the process less complicated, more transparent and outcomes focussed for all those involved. The SENAD Group and other independent providers offer fantastic, well established special needs schools, staffed by experts in the field. It makes absolute sense from both a financial and outcomes basis that these are presented in the local authorities’ ‘local offer’. I am also pleased that the new system will involve parents, carers and young people themselves, and ensure they are placed at the centre of the system. The new system also acknowledges the expert knowledge and understanding that parents have of their child, something that seems to have been overlooked or in some cases ignored far too often in the old process.“