Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

SEND Code of Practice: for 0 to 25 years

The Department for Education (DfE) published a new special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) Code of Practice on 30 July 2014. It came into force from 1 September 2014, replacing the previous 2001 Code.

The new Code reflects the changes introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014.

All schools must have regard to what the Code of Practice says whenever decisions are taken relating to children with SEND.

The new code is summarised below:

Pupils and families have more of a say

The new system aims to put young people and their families at the centre of discussions about the support they receive. The planning and assessment process should use clear language and be easy for families to understand. Young people also have new rights: when they reach 16, they will generally be consulted directly about their support, and their views will take precedence over those of their parents.

Education, health and care plans replace statements

Special educational needs (SEN) statements and learning difficulty assessments (LDAs) are being replaced with education, health and care (EHC) plans which cover children and young people until the age of 25. As of September 2014, new assessments of SEN will follow the new rules, and support will be provided through an EHC plan.

Existing statements and LDAs will remain in force until all children and young people have completed the transition. Transfers from statements to EHC plans should be completed within three years. This means that in the case of pupils who already receive support, you will need to follow the old guidelines until September 2017. No-one should lose their statement and not have it replaced with an EHC plan simply because the system is changing.

New single-category SEN support

School Action and School Action Plus have been removed in the new Code. They will be replaced by a single school-based category called ‘SEN support’. This means that schools will now take a graduated approach to SEN support, in the form of a four-stage cycle of assessment, planning, carrying out the intervention, and reviewing outcomes in successive cycles.

Optional personal budgets for young people

Young people and parents of children who have EHC plans can choose to request a personal budget with which to buy in the support identified. The money will come from the high-needs funding block and will not normally affect the school's notional SEN budget.

The local offer

Local authorities are now obliged to publish a local offer with information about the available provision and how to access it. The aim of this is to make provision more responsive to the needs of young people with SEN.