The main requirements of the Children and Families Act 2014 are as follows:
- The age range 0-25 years is covered, ensuring legal protections can continue as young people leave school and move into college/further education and apprenticeships.
- Education, Health and Social Care services must work together to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND. In particular, Education, Health and Social Care services must work together to identify local needs and jointly commission suitable services in their local area.
- The act requires LAs to identify all disabled children in their area and those who have SEND, to ensure their needs are met and to keep provision under review.
- Academies and free schools are covered by the Children and Families Act 2014 and have the same requirements placed on them as LA maintained schools.
- Involvement of parents and young people in decision making – both for individual support and planning, and at a strategic level when decisions are made about local services.
- The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced a single category of SEND Support. SEN support involves a personalised approach to meeting children’s needs within a mainstream school setting from within existing school budgets. Schools are expected to involve parents and young people in identifying needs and planning support. All schools must clearly communicate the support they will make available for children with SEND in their school through a School Information Report.
- Children and young people with SEND who have the greatest level of need may require an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). These plans will look at all of the child’s needs and will bring together coordinated support services from Education, Health and Care to achieve agreed outcomes.
- The Act places a duty in the LA to ensure a child or a young person with an EHC Plan is educated in a mainstream setting unless this goes against the wishes of the child/young person or their parent, or would impact on the efficient education of others, and no reasonable steps can be taken to overcome this.
- Everyone with an Education, Health and Care Plan will have the right to ask for a Personal Budget for some parts of the plan, if they want one. However, personal budgets will not be suitable or available for everyone. It will depend on a child’s individual needs (e.g. whether they receive Continuing Health Care or have an existing Social Care package) and what the school already provides as part of their ‘local offer’.
- All LAs must develop a ‘Local Offer as a website providing information on all Education, Health and Care services available locally for children and young people with SEND. The Local Offer must also include information on eligibility criteria for services and the steps parents can take if they are unhappy with the service they are receiving.
- The Local Offer must say what the LA expects local schools to deliver to children with SEND in the new single category of SEND Support, from within their existing school budgets.
- LAs must publish comments they receive via the Local Offer together with their response, including details of any action taken. The comments received must be used by the LA and their health partners to understand local needs, identify gaps in services, and make changes that will improve outcomes for local children with SEND.
- LAs are expected to resolve disagreements at the earliest possible stage, to reduce the
number of Tribunal hearings.
- The Children and Families Act 2014 (Part 3) provides the skeleton of the legal framework to support children and young people with SEND to get the provision they need. But Regulations and the SEN Code of Practice add vital operational detail.
- Regulations contain essentials such as the time limits with which LA’s must comply when making decisions on SEND issues; duties on professionals (what, where, when and how); and details how children with SEND, but who will not be entitled to an EHC plan, should be supported.
- The relevant regulations are:
o The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014
o The Special Educational Needs (Personal Budgets) Regulations, The Special Educational Needs and Disability (Detained Persons) Regulations 2015
o The CFA 2014 (Transitional and Saving Provisions) (No2) Order 2014
- The SEND Code of Practice provides statutory guidance on duties, policies and procedures relating to Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014 and associated Regulations. It explains how parties should fulfill their legal duties, and gives the fine detail of the SEND system.
- Where the Code uses the word 'must', this is a statutory requirement. All parties (LAs, Governors, all Schools and settings, Health partners) must 'have regard’ to the Code. 'Have regard' also carries heavy legal weight - like the Highway Code)
- The SEN Code of Practice makes clear that additional intervention and support cannot compensate for a lack of good teaching. As such, it reflects that high quality teaching appropriately differentiated, is the first step to responding to SEND. The code sets out an individualised, outcome focused, graduated response to SEND that it expects to be delivered through SEND Support.