What is the SEND Local Offer?
The government has listened to what parents say about their experience of services and have put in place a number of things to bring about improvements. One of these is the ‘Local Offer’. In 2012 the former Children’s Minister Sarah Teather explained that:
“The current system is outdated and not fit for purpose. Thousands of families have had to battle for months, even years, with different agencies to get the specialist care their children need. It is unacceptable they are forced to go from pillar to post, facing agonising delays and bureaucracy to get support, therapy and equipment”.
“It is a huge step forward to require health, education and care services work together. The reforms will give parents better information and a comprehensive package of support that meets their needs”.
Local authorities and other services will set out a local offer of all services available to support children who are disabled or who have SEN and their families. The local offer will enable families to understand what services they can access and what support they can expect from a range of local agencies, including from the local authority, health services, schools, leisure services and the voluntary sector. The offer will include provision from birth to 25, across education, health and social care.
The potential outcomes of the Local Offer are:
- To provide clarity and confidence for parents.
- To support earlier intervention.
- To reduce the need for assessment.
- To identify need and gaps in provision.
- To provide an evidence base for improving progress and securing better outcomes, at school and local level.
Changes from the SEN Code of Practice 2001
The main changes from the SEN Code of Practice (2001), to reflect the new legislation, are:
The Code of Practice (2014) covers the 0-25 age range;
There is a clearer focus on the views of children and young people and on their role in decision-making;It includes guidance on the joint planning and commissioning of services to ensure close co-operation between education, health services and social care; or children and young people with more complex needs a co-ordinated assessment process and the new 0-25 Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC) replace statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDAs);There is new guidance on the support pupils and students should receive in education and training settings;There is greater focus on support that enables those with SEN to succeed in their education and make a successful transition to adulthood.