The Special Educational Needs 0-25 Team works closely with parents, schools, health and social care services to ensure that children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) aged 0-25 get the most out of their school life and maximise their achievements.
Each school within Brent has an allocated SEND Case Officer, who is the main point of contact for discussing your child’s EHC Plan.
What we do
The team’s main responsibilities include:
- carrying out education, health and care (EHC) plan assessments for children and young people with SEND link to getting an assessment
- identifying appropriate educational provision for pupils with EHC plans
- annually reviewing EHC plans
- overseeing admissions to special schools, mainstream schools and nurseries for students with EHC plans
- giving advice and information to parents, schools and other organisations about statutory SEND requirements and local authority procedures relating to the Children and Families Act 2014
- providing advice to schools on statutory requirements in relation to special educational needs
- representing the council in statutory appeal procedures, SEND tribunals and mediation
- administering EHC plan funding to schools
SEND Officer roles and responsibilities
SEND Officers oversee Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans for a caseload of children and young people either aged 0 to 14 or 14 and over (also known as 'Preparation for Adulthood'). They work in partnership with families, education settings, health, and social care services, whilst ensuring compliance with relevant legislation.
Our SEND Officers work in teams devised as follows:
- EYFS and Primary School Team
- Secondary Schools and Post 16 Team
- Annual Reviews Team
The SEND Officer is the Local Authority's point of contact for children/young people and their families and is responsible for the completion of all administrative processes where an EHC needs assessment is being undertaken following agreement by a multi-professional panel.
The SEND Officer carries out comprehensive casework and oversight of a caseload of children and young people with EHC plans in place or going through assessment, in accordance with the requirements of the Children's and Families Act 2014 and the SEN Code of Practice 2015.
Tasks carried out by SEND Officers
- Collating information, advice/ reports from families, settings and professionals about children and young people going through an Education, Health, and Care (EHC) needs assessment or where there is a request for a change in provision.
- Submitting information, advice/reports to multi-professional Education, Health, and Care plan and any other relevant panels to enable decision making.
- Combining the advice, reports and information gathered through assessment to create the initial EHC plan, where this is agreed, in collaboration with the family, child/ young person and professionals.
- Communicating the decisions made at panels to families and professionals involved with the child/ young person. This includes supporting the young person and/or their family to understand the rationale for the decision and what happens next.
- Attending EHC plan reviews where there is a phase/ key stage transfer (KST) and where there is an issue that needs their involvement, for example a change of placement is being requested. Providing information and guidance on the law, the process, and roles of individuals to ensure everyone knows what their responsibilities are. SEND Officers are not decision-makers, but they will record what is said so that it can be submitted to the SEND Advisory Panel who will make recommendations on decisions. They can also provide information and sign posting to further support where needed.
- Processing annual reviews, submitting the case to panel where needed and issuing a response/decision on whether the plan will be maintained as it is, amended or ceased.
- Amending an EHC plan where there is agreement to do so.
- Liaising with the Commissioning and SEND Admissions teams to secure placements for children/young people where a change of placement is needed, including Key Stage Transfers.
- Liaising with families, professionals, and education/training providers about all aspects of the EHC needs assessment and EHC plan if agreed.
- Dealing with any work that arises throughout the statutory processes and the life of the EHC plan, for example requesting updated advice from professionals.
How are decisions made?
Where a decision is needed, for example to issue an EHC plan or change provision, SEND Officers collate the information and submit this for decision to the SEND Advisory Panel. This is a multi-professional panel of practitioners who meet to provide professional guidance on matters relating to SEND Advisory Panel plans based on the evidence submitted to the SEND Advisory Panel; the Local Authority (LA) are responsible for all decisions. Sometimes a decision may be deferred pending additional information or clarification that is needed, in this situation the SEND Officer will explain the situation to the family, obtain what is needed and resubmit the case to the Panel.
SEND Officers are not able to make decisions. The SEND Advisory Panel will make recommendations on decisions but ultimately the decision is the responsibility of the LA.
Hosting and arranging the annual review meeting is delegated to the education setting and the SEND Officer will not need to attend all reviews. However, those who know the child/young person best and involved with them day to day will carry out the review meeting. The SEND Officer will complete the review process for the LA, see below. This will be recorded on the review documents and sent to the SEND Officer. This is in line with the legal framework that allows the LA to delegate these responsibilities. However, there are times when there is a role for the SEND Officer at the review meeting and they will attend these, this will include where there is a transition review for a phase transfer or if there are any concerns raised about the provision in the EHCP or education placement.
SEND Officers carry out the annual review process regardless of whether they attend the meeting. All annual reviews meeting recommendations are reviewed by the authority and a decision should be provided to the family within 4 weeks of the meeting.
Who to contact and how
If you already have involvement with our Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) teams, you can contact your SEND Officer using the details they have given you.
If you do not have the contact information for your SEND Officer, you can contact:
- general queries: To find out about your child’s EHC plan, and to be put in touch with your case officer, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- assessment requests: To follow up on a current EHC assessment and all queries relating to the assessment process, email: email@example.com
- annual reviews: For queries about annual reviews of EHC plans, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- eligibility for transport: For queries about requests and eligibility for transport, please contact: email@example.com
What happens if a SEND Officer is unavailable?
The SEND Officer's line manager (SEND Team Manager) oversees the case work and will ensure urgent work is covered when one of their SEND Officers is absent. They will decide how to cover the case work dependent on the length of time a SEND Officer is away from work and whether this is planned or not.
If a SEND Officer is absent unexpectedly any urgent actions will be dealt with by another SEND Officer within their age range cluster team. If a SEND Officer will be away for a longer period, their work may be temporarily reallocated to a specific SEND Officer to oversee. In the case of a reallocation the SEND Officer taking over will advise the family and school of this where appropriate.
Where a SEND Officer is on planned leave, dependent on the length of this, they will manage their work to take account of their leave or refer work to SEND Officer within their age range cluster team to complete in their absence. If there is active case work underway the SEND Officer will advise those involved, including families, of their intended absence and who is covering their work where applicable.
Why might the SEND Officer be unavailable?
As SEND Officers spend a considerable proportion of their working week in meetings, they are not always available to speak to immediately, however you can leave a message for them, and they will return calls within 2 working days. For e-mails they will reply within 5 working days. They might not have the information or answer to your query straight away, but they should let you know when they need more time to respond.
We know that it causes a great deal of frustration when you can't contact your SEND Officer and we have put in place a system to support through our Assistant Team to help answer your queries when your SEND Officer is unavailable.
Who is responsible for oversight of SEND Officers?
Within the SEND 0-25 Team, SEND Officers are line managed by Team managers, who are in turn line managed by the SEND Service managers. The SEND Service manager reports to the Head of Inclusion who reports to the Corporate Director, Safeguarding, Partnerships and Strategy.
All SEND Officers have regular supervision with their line manager where they will receive specific guidance and coaching on their case work and any additional training needs can be identified.
Quality Assurance is carried out in several ways, including line managers quality assuring SEND Officers' plans and case work, and providing feedback, guidance, and training to them as needed. We also have a dedicated team of quality managers that carry out termly cycles of auditing. SEND Officers receive focused feedback from the audits and any training needs are addressed. The quality assurance enables us to develop specific programmes of training or guidance based on any emerging themes.