Children Families Act – the legislation in practice Benedict Coffin

Children and Families Act:
the legislation in practice
Benedict Coffin,
Department for Education
Natspec conference, 26 March 2014
The current system of SEND support is complicated,
expensive and delivers poor outcomes
• Parents struggle to find the services that should be helping them, have to
battle to get the help their children need, and have to tell their stories
time and again.
• Moving from children’s to adult services can be very difficult;
• English LAs spend over £5 billion a year on SEND provision, and yet those
with special needs are far more likely to achieve poorly at GCSE, not be in
Education, Employment or Training, or be unemployed.
• These issues affect a lot of people: 1 in 5 children are currently identified
as having some form of SEND, with 2.8% having a more complex need.
What children and young people with SEN and
disabilities want:
Parents said:
• Engage with us every step of the
• Be honest, even with the difficult
• Be clear this isn’t an excuse for
cutting services
• Ask for our help
• Help us understand the cultural
Young people said:
• Listen to the needs and
aspirations of young people –
then everything will be clearer
and would enable a proper plan
of action
• Young people should be allowed
to meet without parents so they
can talk without being influenced
– no matter what their age
What we want to achieve
We want children and young people with special needs and disabilities too
achieve well in their early years, at school and in college; find employment;
lead happy and fulfilled lives; and have choice and control over their support.
The special needs reforms will implement a new approach which seeks to join up help
across education, health and care, from birth to 25. Help will be offered at the earliest
possible point, with children and young people with SEND and their parents or carers fully
involved in decisions about their support and what they want to achieve. This will help lead
to better outcomes and more efficient ways of working.
The SEND reforms: putting children and young
people at the centre
Where disagreements
happen, they can be
resolved early and
amicably, with the
option of a Tribunal
for those that need it
Children, young people
and parents understand a
joined up system,
designed around their
Joint commissioning
Having friends
views heard
Option of a Personal
Children and
young people with
and families
Making their
Extending choice and
control over children and
young people’s support.
Local offer
advice and
Integrated assessment and
Education Health and Care
Plan is holistic, coproduced, focused on
outcomes, and is
This approach works
31 Pathfinder authorities have been testing the reforms. They found:
• Families feel more in control, better informed and more satisfied with the services
they receive;
• Professionals are finding genuine partnership working with families is rewarding
and generates better results
• The reforms are bringing about a culture shift in assessment and planning, with a
growing emphasis on personalisation, multi-agency working and outcomes-based
“It was really rather lovely to feel... heard on an equal footing!...Sometimes it used to feel
as if being a parent was itself a disability. Now I feel that I am part of the team…Now it
feels as though there is someone on my side. Before I felt like the enemy.”
Parent from Surrey
The SEND Reform Journey
• Green Paper: Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and
• Support and aspiration: Progress and next steps
• Draft provisions published for pre-legislative scrutiny by the Education Select Committee
• Government response to pre-legislative scrutiny; and
• Children and Families Bill introduced to Parliament
• Indicative draft regulations and a draft Code of Practice published for committee stage of the
Bill, informed by pathfinder learning
• Public consultation on regulations and Code of Practice, informed by further pathfinder
• Children and Families Act 2014 receives Royal Assent (13 March 2014)
• Issue final Code of Practice
• Legal changes commence in practice (meeting original Green Paper commitment for reforms in
place by 2014)
The legal framework – from September 2014
- Children and Families Act 2014 – March 2014
- Regulations – spring 2014
- New 0-25 Code of Practice – spring 2014
What needs to be done by local authorities
and CCGs
• Work with children and young people with SEN and Disability, their
parents and carers;
• Establish partnerships across education, health and care, including
early years, FE colleges, housing and Jobcentre plus;
• Develop plans for joint commissioning and the local offer;
• Develop processes for assessment, planning and EHC plans;
• Identify services which could be provided through personal
• Publish the ‘local offer’, in consultation with parents and young
people. This will set out the support available for children and
young people with SEN and disabilities from local schools and
colleges, as well as specialist provision outside the LA;
• Review and develop local mediation and disagreement resolution
Managing transition to the new system
The Children and Families Act will come into force from September 2014.
However, we do not propose to move wholesale to the new system on 1 September;
rather this will be the beginning of a period of gradual and orderly transition to full
From 1 September 2014:
• no new assessments for statements or Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDAs) will
be offered by local authorities - new requests for an assessment of special
educational needs after this point will be considered under the new legislation.
children and young people with existing statements transfer to the new system
within three years; and young people with existing LDAs transfer within two years.
The legal force of statements and LDAs will not be withdrawn until all children and
young people have completed the transition to EHC plans.
transfer will happen through a ‘transition review’ and local authorities must have
regard to the principles set out in the revised 0-25 SEND Code of Practice when
writing new EHC plans. Young people with SEND and parents of children with SEND
will be consulted to determine the best point within each year for them to transfer
to the new system.
What does the Act mean – Preparing for Adulthood
Preparing for Adulthood is a key part of the reforms
Preparing for Adulthood should begin early on – employment and independent
living and community participation should be considered important outcomes in
the EHC Planning process;
Young people have decision making powers under this Bill:
– young people can ask for an EHC Plan assessment;
– young people can ask for mediation and have recourse to a Tribunal;
– young people can request the educational institution of their choice.
Young people should therefore be engaged at strategic level early on;
Information, Advice and Support must meet young people’s needs as well as those
of parents;
FE and training providers also have new duties, and so need support to understand
their role, and their new, equal relationship with LAs.
Specific work is needed to ensure smooth transitions from children's to adult
The new Code of Practice will include a specific Preparation for Adulthood chapter
– not “post-16”, as it applies 0-25.
What does the Act mean – Young people aged 19-25
Local authorities should have high expectations for children and young people with special
educational needs, and provide the right support and opportunities to help many more of
them make a successful transition to adulthood at age 18, along with their peers.
Young people with SEN aged 19-25 should be supported to remain in formal education
or training with an EHC plan where this will enable them to complete or consolidate
their learning, achieve their outcomes and make a successful transition to adulthood.
The legislation does not create an entitlement or expectation that all young people with
special educational needs will remain in education with an EHC plan until age 25.
Where a young person is aged 19-25, the legislation requires local authorities to
– when determining whether to make an EHC plan: whether a young person aged
over 18 needs more time – in comparison to the majority of others of the same
age, without SEN - to complete their education or training;
– When reviewing an EHC plan, or determining a plan should end: whether the
educational or training outcomes specified in their plan have been achieved.
Local authorities must make this judgement in close consultation with young people,
who will have access to mediation and can appeal to the SEN Tribunal if they are
unhappy with decisions.
What does the Act mean – Young people aged 19-25
Additional rights and protections in the Children & Families Act:
• 19-25 year olds have the right to ask for an assessment for an EHC
• Mainstream post-16 provision (sixth forms, FE colleges and sixth
form colleges) are under a new duty to use their ‘best endeavours’
for all young people (up to the age of 25) with SEN, regardless of
whether or not they have an EHC plan;
• 19-25 year olds with an EHC plan will have the right to request that
an FE college or approved specialist post-16 institution is named in
their EHC plan. Those institutions will then have a duty to admit
them (unless it is unsuitable for their age, ability, aptitude or special
educational need; or incompatible with efficient use of resources or
education of others);
• 19-25 year olds have the right to appeal to the SEN First Tier
Tribunal on local authority decisions.
What does the Act mean for post-16 settings?
Further Education colleges, Sixth Form colleges and approved specialist
post-16 institutions will be under important new legal duties from
September 2014. These give young people aged 16-25 in further
education equivalent rights and protections to those found for
children/their parents in schools.
The key new duties are:
• for mainstream post-16 provision (sixth forms, FE colleges and sixth
form colleges) to use ‘best endeavours’ for all young people with SEND
(up to the age of 25), regardless of whether or not they have an EHC
• to admit a young person, where the college is named in their EHC plan
(unless it is unsuitable for their age, ability, aptitude or special
educational need; or incompatible with efficient use of resources or
education of others);
• to co-operate with the local authority, and for them to co-operate in
• to have regard to the new 0-25 SEND Code of Practice.
What do post-16 settings need to do?
Key actions for all FE providers:
• Engage with local authorities in their review of local provision and the
development of a local offer, in the EHC assessment and planning
• Assess the implications for your staff of implementing the new system –
government funding for specialist SEND initial teacher training and
continuing professional development are available to support you in
developing your workforce.
• Use the flexibility of study programmes to develop personalised
learning for young people including Supported Internships, traineeships
and Apprenticeships.
For independent specialist colleges:
• Consider applying to join the “approved” list under Section 41 of the
Section 41 and specialist post-16 institutions
Section 41 of the Children & Families Act allows the Secretary of State to
publish a list of approved independent special schools and special post-16
The approved list allows independent institutions to make themselves
voluntarily subject to duties in Children and Families Act. It will cover:
• independent special schools in England and Wales;
• specialist post-16 institutions which are not 16-19 Academies or in the
further education sector (i.e. independent specialist colleges).
Some independent institutions already have a legal definition and are
already subject to the duties in the Children and Families Act. These
institutions are not covered by the approved list:
• non-maintained special schools;
• special Academies and special free schools.
The approved list effectively places independent specialist colleges on a
statutory footing for the first time.
Section 41 and specialist post-16 institutions
The Children and Families Act places specific duties upon providers on the
approved list:
LAs’ published local offer must refer to the providers on the approved list;
providers on the approved list must “have regard” to the SEN Code of
providers on the approved list have a reciprocal duty to co-operate with the
local authority on arrangements for children and young people with SEN;
duties and rights relating to admissions:
a child or young person has a right to request that they are named in
their EHC Plan;
if the institution is named in an EHC Plan, the LA is under a qualified
duty to secure a place;
if the institution is named in an EHC Plan, the institution must accept
the pupil or young person
Providers on the approved list are not required to use ‘best endeavours’ to
provide special educational provision for young people – this only applies to
mainstream settings (sixth forms, FE colleges and sixth form colleges), and not
specialist provision.
The Section 41 “approved” list in practice
The Education Funding Agency will oversee applications to join the list. No
provider can be forced to join the list.
EFA will publish guidance on how to apply in April. There are three criteria:
• specialism and background – is it specialist and educational?
quality of education, training and care provision – is it satisfactory or better?
What inspection information is available?
financial health – is it satisfactory or better?
For new or prospective providers, EFA will consider other information, including
education plans and costed business plans and information from commissioning
local authorities.
This is distinct from EFA’s Market Entry Process (to receive an EFA funding
• providers may be on one or other list, both or neither – they are independent;
• where a provider has recently submitted information for one process, it will be
re-used when applying for the other.
We intend to publish the approved list in September 2014 when the Children &
Families Act comes into force.
Any Questions?

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