Special educational needs and disabilities reforms


From 1 September 2014 major changes to services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) were introduced in Brent.

The reforms are part of a national programme of support for young people with additional needs set out in the government's Children and Families Bill 2014. They extend the special educational needs system from birth to 25 and place new legal duties on councils, schools, health services and other agencies to ensure that children with SEND, and their families, get the support they need. 

The changes aim to:

  • get education, health and social care services working better together to help children and young people with SEND
  • make sure children, young people and families know what help they can get when a child or young person has SEND
  • simplify the system and put children, young people and their parents at the heart of the assessment and planning process
  • give children and young people and their parents more say about the help they receive
  • look at what special help a child or young person may need with education, health or social care needs, as part of one assessment process
  • give children or young person a single plan for meeting their education, health and social care needs, which can run from birth to 25
  • provide a greater focus on supporting young people with SEND as they move into adulthood to ensure they can live fulfilling, independent lives and achieve their goals
  • help resolve things quickly if a child, young person or their parent needs to appeal about the help they get
  • where appropriate, give families the right to a personal budget.

 View an easy to read guide about changes to the SEND support system.


What are the changes?

Key points:

  • a single education, health and care (EHC) plan from birth to 25 that replaces statements of special educational needs
  • the option of a personal budget for children or young people with an EHC plan
  • help and support young people to prepare for the future as they move into adulthood so they can achieve education and training opportunities, paid employment, independent living and good health
  • a Local Offer of services for children and young people with SEND
  • a new SEND code of practice for 0 to 25 year olds
  • a requirement for local councils and other key agencies, including health and schools, to link up and jointly plan services for SEND
  • a clearer focus on the views of children and young people and their role in decision-making
  • school action and school action plus replaced by a new school-based category called SEN support
  • Mediation for parents going to tribunal
  • supporting children and young people with SEND in youth custody.

Local councils must ensure that parents, children and young people are involved in discussions and decisions about every aspect of their SEND care and support, planning outcomes and agreeing services and activities to meet those outcomes, as well as:

  • being actively involved in contributing to assessments, planning and reviewing EHC Plans
  • planning and reviewing the Local Offer
  • reviewing SEND and social care provision.

In addition, early years providers, schools and colleges should fully engage parents and/or young people about SEND when drawing up the plans and policies that affect them.

Youth custody

From 1 April 2015 new laws and statutory guidance were introduced that apply to how children and young people with SEN are supported in youth custody.

The introduction of this new legal framework gives them new rights and places additional expectations on custodial establishments, local authorities, health partners and youth offending teams.

Even though the numbers of children and young people with SEN in youth custody are very low, the changes are important because:

  • over 60 per cent of people in youth justice have difficulties with speech, language or communication
  • around 18 per cent of young people in custody have a statement of SEN.

The new arrangements apply to children and young people aged 18 and under in:

  • young offender institutions
  • secure training centres
  • secure children’s homes
  • children and young people who are on remand or have been sentenced
  • children who have been voluntarily detained in secure children’s homes.

More information about the new requirements is set out in chapter ten of the Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years.

The Council for Disabled Children has resources for anyone working with a child or young person in youth custody, including checklists and helpful guides to help them implement the new framework.