Unless you’ve been living on a desert island, unable to access the news, you will know that September 2014 is an enormous month for school leaders up and down the country with monumental changes coming into effect.
Governing bodies and headteachers will have to grapple with reforms to performance related pay, the first teaching of the new national curriculum, implementation of universal infant free school meals, the risk pool scheme for free schools and academies, reforms to teacher’s pension schemes, and meeting their duty to support pupils with medical conditions, to name but a few.
I hope you’re still keeping up?
Well, if that wasn’t enough, last month, the reforms to the special educational needs and disability (SEND) framework, outlined in the Children and Families Bill, was given royal assent and became the Children and Families Act 2014. These changes will also come into force on 1st September 2014.
By now, you must be tearing your hair out (if you haven’t already) over all these reforms, but bear with me. TheSchoolBus has your back.
So, how much do you know about SEND?
Were you aware, for example, that one in five children and young people have a special educational need or disability? Or that the types and range of SEND is increasing all the time?
Twenty percent is a substantial proportion of the pupils in the education system. To put it in perspective, applying the SEND prevalence rate to a class of twenty pupils, for example, would mean that at least four pupils in that class would have a special educational need or disability. This number is far too great for school leaders to brush aside as a secondary issue.
It is also likely that the SEND of each of those 4 pupils is unique, with varying types of support required to accommodate the pupil’s specific needs. That is why the Children and Families Act 2014 sets out a more individualised and better graduated response to support pupils with SEND.
What are the changes?
The overarching change behind all the other changes is that of autonomy. School leaders, teachers, pupils and their parents will be given greater freedom in the way that they identify, assess and deliver SEND provision.
There will be a new 0-25 SEND Code of Practice, setting out the detail of the new SEND legal framework.
Statements of SEN and Learning Difficulty Assessments will be replaced by joint EHC plans, for pupils whose SEND requirements cannot be reasonably met internally, with the resources normally available in mainstream schools. Pupils, who currently have a Statement of SEN before 1st September, will be gradually transferred to an EHC plan. Schools will need to manage a dual system of SEN Statements and EHC plans for the next three years.
School Action and School Action Plus will be replaced with a single SEN Support system. SEN support will be the support available in school for pupils who have a SEND requirement but do not have an EHC plan. Your school should review the support currently given to pupils on School Action and School Action Plus in light of the changes in the 2014/15 academic year.
Local authorities will have a duty to publish a local offer outlining the support that pupils and their families can expect from a range of local agencies, including in education, health and social care. Your school should already be working with the LA, and local health and care providers, to develop the local offer and create the systems and partnerships needed to deliver the changes.
School teaching staff will be held specifically accountable for the progress of their pupils with SEND and will be expected to demonstrate this during their performance appraisals. The training and development of the employees at your school will, therefore, be vital, to ensure that they have the knowledge and expertise of SEND to provide quality provision.
TheSchoolBus has a range of resources in our SEND section that may help you prepare for the new SEND reforms, including:
Our editorial team is also on hand to provide you with any bespoke document or template that you require, so if there’s something we can do to help you prepare for and implement the SEND reforms, just send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.