helping the young with learning Difficulties

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The full SEN paper via the Department for Education

Executive Summary

 

1. Every child deserves a fair start in life, with the very best opportunity to succeed. Currently, life chances for the approximately two million children and young people in England who are identified as having a special educational need (SEN), or who are disabled, are disproportionately poor.

 

2. Disabled children and children with SEN tell us that they can feel frustrated by a lack of the right help at school or from other services. For children with the most complex support needs, this can significantly affect their quality of life. Hundreds of thousands of families have a disabled child or a child with SEN, and parents say that the system is bureaucratic, bewildering and adversarial and that it does not sufficiently reflect the needs of their child and their family life.

 

3. Whilst the circumstances of children, young people and their parents differ greatly; from young people requiring a few adjustments in class to children with life-limiting long-term conditions, families have many shared concerns. The system to support children and young people who are disabled or who have SEN often works against the wishes of families. Children’s support needs can be identified late; families are made to put up with a culture of low expectations about what their child can achieve at school; parents don’t have good information about what they can expect and have limited choices about the best schools and care for their child; and families are forced to negotiate each bit of their support separately.

Our vision

4. Our proposed reforms respond to the frustrations of children and young people,

their families and the professionals who work with them. We want to put in place

a radically different system to support better life outcomes for young people; give

parents confidence by giving them more control; and transfer power to

professionals on the front line and to local communities.

5. To support better life outcomes for young people from birth to adulthood we

will help professionals: identify and meet children’s needs early by ensuring that

health services and early education and childcare are accessible to all children;

work in partnership with parents to give each child support to fulfil their potential;

and join up education, health and social care to provide families with a package of

support that reflects all of their needs. We propose:

a new approach to identifying SEN in early years settings and schools to

challenge a culture of low expectations for children with SEN and give them

effective support to succeed. A new single early years setting- and schoolbased

category of SEN will build on our fundamental reforms to education

which place sharper accountability on schools to make sure that every child

fulfils his or her potential; and

Executive summary 5

a new single assessment process and ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’ by

2014 to replace the statutory SEN assessment and statement, bringing

together the support on which children and their families rely across

education, health and social care. Services will work together with the family

to agree a straightforward plan that reflects the family’s ambitions for their

child from the early years to adulthood, which is reviewed regularly to reflect

their changing needs, and is clear about who is responsible for provision.

The new ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’ will provide the same statutory

protection to parents as the statement of SEN and will include a commitment

from all parties to provide their services, with local assessment and plan

pathfinders testing the best way to achieve this.

6. To give parents confidence by giving them more control over the support their

family receives, we will introduce more transparency in the provision of services

for children and young people who are disabled or who have SEN. Parents will

have real choice over their child’s education and the opportunity for direct control

over support for their family. We propose:

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. This easy-to-understand information for parents will set out what is

normally available in schools to help children with lower-level SEN, as well as

the options available to support families who need additional help to care for

their child; and

the option of a personal budget by 2014 for all families with children with a

statement of SEN or a new ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’, many of whom

will have complex support needs. Key workers will be trained to advise families

and help them navigate the range of help available across health, education

and social care.

7. To transfer power to professionals on the front line and to local communities

we will: strip away unnecessary bureaucracy so that professionals can innovate

and use their judgement; establish a clearer system so that professionals from

different services and the voluntary and community sector can work together;

and give parents and communities much more influence over local services.

We propose to:

give parents a real choice of school, either a mainstream or special school.

We will remove the bias towards inclusion and propose to strengthen parental

choice by improving the range and diversity of schools from which parents can

choose, making sure they are aware of the options available to them and by

changing statutory guidance for local authorities. Parents of children with

statements of SEN will be able to express a preference for any state-funded

school – including special schools, Academies and Free Schools – and have

their preference met unless it would not meet the needs of the child, be

incompatible with the efficient education of other children, or be an inefficient

use of resources. We will also prevent the unnecessary closure of special schools

by giving parents and community groups the power to take them over; and

6 Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability

introduce greater independence to the assessment of children’s needs,

testing how the voluntary and community sector could coordinate assessment

and input from across education, health and social care as part of our

proposals to move to a single assessment process and ‘Education, Health and

Care Plan’.

8. We must provide the best quality of life possible to the most vulnerable children

and young people in our society. Many of the reforms we propose in this

document focus on helping families with children who have the most complex

support needs, including those with life-limiting long-term conditions. We know

that the vast majority of these children will have their disability identified before

or shortly after their birth. Here, we set out our ambition to: put early support in

place for parents to help them navigate the system and influence their child’s

package of care; to provide ongoing respite care and short breaks for children to

help families cope with their day-to-day caring responsibilities; and to help

families who are worried about their child’s future and independence.

9. Central government cannot achieve this ambitious programme of reform through

directing and managing change itself. The vision set out in this Green Paper is

informed by the views and expertise of families and national and local

organisations working with them. The proposals we set out are for widespread

consultation as well as practical testing in local areas. From September 2011,

local pathfinders will help demonstrate the best way to achieve our key reforms.

This Green Paper marks an important milestone in the development of the

Government’s approach to supporting children and young people with SEN or

who are disabled and their families.

10. We set out our detailed proposals and questions for consultation in five chapters:

early identification and support; giving parents more control; learning and

achieving; preparing for adulthood; and services working together for families.

The final section of this Green Paper explains our next steps and how to respond

to our consultation. Based on the feedback we receive, we will set out our detailed

plans by the end of the year, and how these reforms and the ongoing testing in

local areas will form part of the Government’s broader agenda for public service

reform.

Early identification and support

11. Identifying children’s support needs early is vital if they are to thrive, and enables

parents and professionals to put the right approach in place quickly. Graham

Allen’s review of early intervention highlighted the value of intervening as soon

as possible, not just for children and their families, but also for wider society.

12. Too often, the particular support that children and their families require is put in

place needlessly late. Although some impairments are normally identified at birth

or soon after, other types of need emerge as children grow up. Not knowing why

children are developing differently can be tremendously stressful for the child and

for their parents. And even when needs have been identified, parents tell us that it

can feel like a struggle to get the right support for their family from education,

health and social care services. It can be slow and complicated, with different

services working in isolation and each having its own approach.

Executive summary 7

13. We must put in place a system which works well for every child and every family.

The proposals in this chapter are intended to ensure high quality early

identification and intervention for all children where they need it, such as the

health and development review for children aged between 2 and 2½ years, as well

as effective integrated support for children with the most complex needs. Our

proposals would mean that:

• professionals from health services, such as health visitors, and from early years

settings work with parents to assess the development of all children to clarify

where they need additional support or a different approach;

• high quality early education and childcare is accessible to all children; and

• by 2014, children and young people who would currently have a statement of

SEN or learning difficulty assessment will have a single assessment process and

‘Education, Health and Care Plan’ for their support from birth to 25. The new

plan will afford parents the same statutory protection as the statement of SEN.

All the services on which the child and their family rely would work together

with the family to agree an ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’ which reflects the

family’s needs and ambitions for the child’s future covering education, health,

employment and independence. The plan will be clear about who is

responsible for which services, and will include a commitment from all parties

across education, health and social care to provide their services.

14. To work towards this:

• we will test how to reform radically the statutory SEN assessment and

statement. Local pathfinders will explore the best replacement, including

whether the voluntary and community sector could coordinate assessment

and bring greater independence to the process; and

• before introducing the new single assessment process and ‘Education, Health

and Care Plan’, for statements of SEN, we intend to reduce the time the current

statutory assessment process takes and explore how to tackle delays in the

provision of advice for the statutory assessment.

Giving parents control

15. Early intervention from all the services on which families rely is essential, but the

effectiveness of this support is undermined if it doesn’t reflect each family’s

unique circumstances. Parents know their child best. As well as giving their own

love and care, parents rely on health services, early years settings, schools and

other people to help look after their child and help him or her have a happy

childhood and fulfil his or her potential. Disabled children and children with SEN

may require a different approach in these health and education settings to their

peers, or extra support from social care or specialist services. It is crucial to families

that these services work well together and that parents are empowered to make

decisions about their child. Unfortunately, this is not what many families

experience.

8 Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability

16. Children, young people and their parents have a variety of different

circumstances, but many families share a concern that the system can feel

impenetrable, bureaucratic and inefficient, and does not sufficiently reflect their

family life. Parents may feel that their choices are limited and their options don’t

always meet the basic needs of their child. This is particularly the case where a

child relies on specialist services or equipment – such as incontinence pads,

computer software and wheelchairs – to support their physical and

communication needs to help improve the quality of their life. These problems

may also be compounded by disadvantage, and some parents might have poor

health, live in poverty, or have difficult family circumstances on top of juggling a

range of support for their child.

17. Our aim is to give parents more control over support for their child and family.

This will mean ending the frustration, complexity and confrontation inherent in

today’s system, which in itself can undermine family life. The proposals in this

chapter are intended to extend parents’ influence, build their confidence in the

system and minimise its adversarial nature, and would mean that:

• local authorities and other local services communicate a clear local offer for

families to clarify what support is available and from whom;

• parents have the option of personalised funding by 2014 to give them greater

control over their child’s support, with trained key workers helping them to

navigate different services;

• parents have access to transparent information about the funding which

supports their child’s needs;

• parents of disabled children continue to have access to a short break from

caring while their child enjoys activities with their peers;

• parents have a clear choice of school; and

• if local authorities and parents disagree, they always try mediation first, to

resolve problems in a less adversarial way than having to take their case to the

Tribunal.

18. As first steps towards this aim:

• local authorities and health services will explore how to extend the scope of

personalised funding;

• we will give parents the right to express a preference for any state-funded

school, including Academies and Free Schools.

Learning and achieving

19. Parents’ confidence that their child’s needs are being met is vital to making the

system feel less adversarial. A central piece of this jigsaw is the capacity and

commitment of the education system to give every child and young person the

chance to succeed. Every child, whether in a mainstream or special setting,

deserves a world-class education to ensure that they fulfil their potential.

Executive summary 9

Everyone who works with disabled children and children with SEN should have

high expectations of them and the skills to help them to learn.

20. But the system doesn’t always work in the way it should for disabled children and

young people and those with SEN. Too many face significant barriers to their

progress and achieve less well than their peers at school and in further education.

Disabled children and children with SEN are more likely to be bullied or excluded

than their peers. They also tell us that they want to be educated by people who

understand their impairments, without fear of being stigmatised by their peers

and in an environment where poor behaviour is not tolerated.

21. To provide the best opportunities for all children and young people, we must

confront the weaknesses of our education system. Children’s needs should be

picked up as early as possible, but teachers tell us that they have not always had

training to identify children’s needs, or to provide the right help. Head teachers

have been overwhelmed with top-down initiatives rather than having the

freedom to drive improvements.

22. Previous measures of school performance created perverse incentives to overidentify

children as having SEN. There is compelling evidence that these labels of

SEN have perpetuated a culture of low expectations and have not led to the right

support being put in place.

23. In our Schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, we set out our vision to

match the best education systems in the world. Building on that, our proposals in

this Green Paper will mean that:

• teachers and other staff in schools and colleges are well trained and confident

to: identify and overcome a range of barriers to learning; manage challenging

behaviour; address bullying; and intervene early when problems emerge;

• schools will have additional flexibility to support the needs of all pupils, and

will have additional funding to support disadvantaged pupils through the

pupil premium;

• teachers feel able to identify effectively what a child needs to help them to

learn and to plan support to help every child progress well, reflecting the

specific needs of children with SEN and those who may just be struggling with

learning and need school-based catch-up support which is normally available;

• parents have the information they need about how the school is supporting

their child;

• schools are more clearly accountable to parents, governors and Ofsted; and

• special schools share their expertise and services to support the education,

progress and development of pupils in other special and mainstream schools,

leading to a greater choice of specialist provision.

10 Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability

24. To work towards this:

• we intend to tackle the practice of over-identification by replacing the current

SEN identification levels of School Action and School Action Plus with a new

single school-based SEN category for children whose needs exceed what is

normally available in schools; revising statutory guidance on SEN identification

to make it clearer for professionals; and supporting the best schools to share

their practices. This will help teachers to spot quickly and accurately any

barriers to learning and provide the right support to help each child progress;

• we will introduce an indicator in performance tables which will give parents

clear information on the progress of the lowest attaining pupils;

• starting with those judged by Ofsted to be outstanding, all maintained special

schools will in due course have the opportunity to become Academies; and

• parents and members of local communities will be able to establish new

special Free Schools.

Preparing for adulthood

25. By 2015, all young people will continue in education or training until the age of

18. Schools and colleges play a key role in helping young people make successful

transition to adulthood, but young people also need wider opportunities and

support to make the most of their future and give them the best chance of a

fulfilling adulthood with employment, good health and independence. However,

many young people who are disabled or who have SEN can face additional

challenges during their teenage years. Too often the opportunities and support

available to disabled young people and young people with SEN fall short of what

they need to make a successful transition to adult life.

26. Like school-aged children, young people who are disabled or who have SEN and

their parents tell us that to get the help they need they have to cope with

disjointed and confusing assessment processes from their local authority, school

or college and health providers. Too often, professionals working with these

young people are not encouraged to focus on young people’s ambitions for

adulthood and how best to help them prepare. Such poor planning of support is

exacerbated by a lack of choice and opportunities for young people: for example,

a limited choice of entry-level courses in further education that do not build on

what has gone before, or prepare young people for life and work; poor quality

work experience; and a lack of supported employment opportunities to help them

prepare for, find and retain work. In addition, the transition from children’s to

adult health services is often badly coordinated, which can lead to a deterioration

in young people’s health.

Executive summary 11

27. Our goal is for disabled young people and young people with SEN to have the

best opportunities and support so that as far as possible they can succeed in

education and their careers, live as independently and healthily as they are able to

and be active members of their communities. For a small number of young

people, independent living may not be possible, and their families may be anxious

about their ongoing care responsibilities. For these young people, we want to

ensure the best quality of life with support for them to fulfil their potential and

support for their parents and carers.

28. We recognise the challenge of realising our ambitions, and we will take forward a

programme of action across government and with local partners, setting out more

detail by the end of this year, so that by 2015 disabled young people and young

people with SEN will have:

• early and well-integrated support for, and advice on, their future as part of the

proposed birth to 25 single assessment process and ‘Education, Health and

Care Plan’, spanning education, health, social care, and support into

employment;

• access to better quality vocational and work-related learning options to enable

young people to progress in their learning post-16;

• good opportunities and support in order to get and keep a job; and

• a well-coordinated transition from children’s to adult health services, and we

will explore the feasibility of annual health checks from GPs for all disabled

young people from the age of 16.

Services working together for families

29. The reforms we set out in this Green Paper aim to provide families with

confidence in, and greater control over, the services that they use and receive.

For too many parents, their expectations that services will provide comprehensive

packages of support that are tailored to the specific needs of their child and their

family are not matched by their experiences, just as frontline professionals too

often are hampered and frustrated by excessively bureaucratic processes and

complex funding systems.

30. Rather than directing change from Whitehall, we want to make it easier for

professionals and services to work together, and we want to create the conditions

that encourage innovative and collaborative ways of providing better support for

children, young people and families. The proposals in this chapter would mean

that:

• by developing stronger local strategic planning and commissioning

arrangements, local authorities and local health services will play a pivotal

role in ensuring that children and young people with SEN or who are disabled

receive high quality support, and that parents are able to make informed

choices about what is right for their family;

12 Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability

• frontline professionals will have the freedom to work together to develop

better services for children, young people and families; and

• the way in which services for children and young people with SEN or who are

disabled are funded will facilitate integrated and collaborative approaches by

local professionals, be more transparent to parents, and secure better value for

money.

31. To work towards this we propose to:

• work with the health sector and with the new Health and Wellbeing Boards to

consider how the needs of children and young people with SEN or who are

disabled can best be taken into account through the Joint Strategic Needs

Assessment, joint health and wellbeing strategies, guidelines and standards

from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), and health

service outcomes frameworks;

• work with the GP consortia pathfinders to explore the best ways of providing

support for the commissioning of healthcare services for children and young

people with SEN or who are disabled and their families;

• reduce bureaucratic burdens by simplifying and improving the statutory

guidance for all professionals working with children and young people with

SEN or who are disabled from birth to 25 so that it is clear, accessible and

helpful, and withdrawing guidance that does not provide useful support to

professionals;

• work with the educational psychology profession and local commissioners to

review the future training arrangements for educational psychologists;

• encourage greater collaboration between local professionals and services and

across local boundaries;

• extend the freedom and flexibility with which funding can be used locally;

• provide targeted funding to voluntary and community sector organisations

that have a strong track record of delivering high quality services, and publish

a national SEN and disabilities voluntary and community sector prospectus

that will set out the key areas in which we will make further funding available

to voluntary and community sector organisations;

• work with a group of local authorities to explore whether and how a national

banded framework for funding provision for children and young people with

SEN or who are disabled could improve transparency to parents while

continuing to allow for local flexibility; and

• explore how the different funding arrangements for special educational

provision pre-16 and post-16 might be aligned more effectively so as to

provide a more consistent approach to support for children and young people

from birth to 25.

Executive summary 13

Next Steps

32. The ambitious vision for reform set out in this Green Paper includes wide ranging

proposals to improve outcomes for children and young people who are disabled

or have SEN, minimise the adversarial nature of the system for families and

maximise value for money.

33. This publication marks the start of a four month period of consultation and a

period of testing proposals in local areas from September 2011. We will work

across government and with local and national partners to set out detailed plans

by the end of the year. This will form the basis for any necessary legislative

changes to be taken forward from May 2012 at the earliest.

 

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A new single assessment process leading to an ‘Education , Health and Care plan’ Who will coordinate this?

The
Green
Paper
Comments by P Jones
I  have only read the executive summary of this paper so this must be taken into account when you read my comments.  These are my thoughts:
The green paper covers physical disability and learning problems together-the problem is that one is more easily identified than the other so this may lead to a misplaced emphasis on the physical dimension. There is a great virtue in replacing the statement with an single assessment process leading to an ‘Education , Health and Care plan’ but who will lead on this? . I do have a very long experience (from my time in the health sector) of working across agency boundaries and I can comment on some aspects with authority. Different services are slow to release common records and even slower to free up funds for a joint approach. Finally there is a definite slant in the paper towards re-establishing special schools which have been closing in the face of the moves to inclusion. I see both arguments but I have always leaned towards inclusion where this is possible. I wonder what readers of these notes think?