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SEND Code of Practice: a summary

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Last updated on 21 December 2017
School types: All · School phases: Nursery
In-depth article
Is there a summary of the SEND Code of Practice? This article summarises the Code and looks at information on developing an education, health and care (EHC) plan. You will also find a downloadable handout for staff.

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Contents

  1. 1 SEND Code of Practice: for 0 to 25 years
  2. 2 A family-centred system
  3. 3 Duties on mainstream schools
  4. 4 The local offer
  5. 5 EHC assessments and plans
  6. 6 Children and young people with SEN: specific circumstances
  7. 7 Staff training in education settings
  8. 8 Changes from the SEN Code of Practice 2001
  9. 9 Changes from the 2014 Code

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SEND Code of Practice: for 0 to 25 years

All schools must have regard to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice when taking decisions relating to pupils with SEN or disabilities. The code applies equally to maintained schools, academies, and free schools. 

Previously, the 2001 code of practice had separate sections for primary and secondary schools. The current code does not distinguish between the primary and secondary phases.

While both mainstream and special schools must have regard to the Code of Practice, some sections of it make particular reference to mainstream or special settings.

A family-centred system

The code explains that local authorities (LAs) must ensure that children, their parents, and young people are involved in discussions and decisions about their individual support and about local provision.

Early years providers, schools and colleges should also "take steps to ensure that young people and parents are actively supported" in contributing to needs assessments, developing and reviewing education health and care (EHC) plans.

The assessment and planning process should enable parents, children and young people to express their views, wishes and feelings, and to be part of the decision-making process.

The process should also:

  • Focus on the child or young person as an individual
  • Be easy for children, young people and their parents to understand and use clear ordinary language and images, rather than professional jargon
  • Highlight the child's or young person’s strengths and capacities
  • Enable the child or young person, and those who know them best, to say what they done and is interested in and what outcomes they are seeking in the future
  • Tailor support to the needs of the individual
  • Organise assessments to minimise demands on families
  • Bring together relevant professionals to discuss and agree together the overall approach
  • Deliver an outcomes-focused and co-ordinated plan for the child or young person and their parents 

Duties on mainstream schools

Chapter 6 outlines information on how mainstream providers and specialists can ensure that they improve attainment for children and secure good outcomes whether or not they have an EHC plan.

Paragraph 6.2 notes that maintained nursery schools, mainstream schools (including academies and free schools), 16 to 19 academies, alternative provision academies and pupil referral units (PRUs) are required to:

  • Use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support he/she needs – this means doing everything they can to meet children's and young people's SEN
  • Ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN
  • Designate a teacher to be responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision (the SEN co-ordinator or SENCO). (This does not apply in 16 to 19 academies)
  • Inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
  • Prepare an SEN information report and their arrangements for the admission of children with disabilities, the steps being taken to prevent children with disabilities from being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to enable access to the school for children with disabilities and its accessibility plan showing how they plan to improve access progressively over time

SEN information report

Paragraph 6.79 on page 106 of the code explains that schools must publish information on their websites about the implementation of the school's policy for pupils with SEN.

We have produced a model SEN information report for you to adapt to your school's needs. 

The chapter also provides details about the four broad areas of SEN:

  1. Communication and interaction difficulties
  2. Cognition and learning needs
  3. Social, emotional and mental health difficulties
  4. Sensory and/or physical needs

Identification of pupils with SEN

Paragraph 6.36 says that teachers are responsible and accountable for the progress and development of the pupils in their class, including where pupils access support from teaching assistants or specialist staff.

Paragraphs 6.45-6.56 on pages 100-102 look at the types of action to be taken when a potential SEN is identified: a cycle of "assess, plan, do, review".

Assessments and EHC plans

Chapter 9 of the Code describes the EHC assessment and planning process. It explains that if an LA thinks it may be necessary for a child to have an EHC plan, it must conduct an assessment of education, health and care needs.

On page 154 there is a flow diagram of the EHC assessment and planning process. It shows that the LA must consult the governing body, principal or proprietor before naming the school on the EHC plan. The school must respond within 15 days. The whole process must be completed within 20 weeks maximum.

Personal budgets

Information on the right of young people and parents to request a personal budget from the LA is outlined in paragraphs 9.95 to 9.117. The child or his/her parents can request a personal budget once the LA has completed the assessment and confirmed that it will prepare an EHC plan. They can also request a personal budget during a statutory review of an existing EHC plan.

EHC plans for young people over 18

Paragraph 9.155 of the code explains that young people without an EHC plan continue to have the right to request an assessment of their SEN at any point prior to their 25th birthday (unless an assessment has been carried out in the previous six months).

The local offer

Chapter 4 of the code explains that LAs must publish a local offer, setting out in one place information about provision they expect to be available for children and young people in their area who have SEND, including those who do not have EHC plans.

Paragraph 4.2 says that the two key purposes of the local offer are to:

  1. Provide clear, comprehensive, accessible and up-to-date information about the available provision and how to access it; and
  2. Make provision more responsive to local needs and aspirations by directly involving children and young people with SEN or disabilities, parents and carers and service providers in its development and review

Paragraph 4.3 adds:

The local offer should not simply be a directory of existing services. Its success depends as much upon full engagement with children, young people and their parents as on the information it contains. The process of developing the local offer will help LAs and their health partners to improve provision.

Paragraph 4.17 on page 64 explains that the LA must also ensure that its officers co-operate with each other regarding the local offer. It adds:

This must include those whose roles relate to social services or who will contribute to helping young people make a successful transition to adulthood – for example, those working in housing and economic regeneration.

The local offer: format, content and publication

The code also refers to the SEND Regulations 2014, which provide a common framework for the local offer. The regulations specify:

  • The information to be included in the local offer
  • How the local offer is to be published
  • Who is to be consulted about the local offer
  • How children and young people with SEN or disabilities and their parents will be involved in the preparation and review of the local offer; and
  • The publication of comments on the local offer and the LA’s response, including any action it intends to take in relation to those comments

Among other items listed on pages 66-67 of the code, the local offer must include information about:

  • Special educational, health and social care provision for children and young people with SEN or disabilities - this should include online and blended learning
  • Details of how parents and young people can ask for an assessment for an EHC plan
  • Arrangements for identifying and assessing children and young people’s SEN, including arrangements for EHC needs assessments
  • Other educational provision such as sports or arts provision, and paired reading schemes
  • Childcare, including suitable provision for children with disabilities and those with SEN
  • Arrangements for resolving disagreements, mediation and parents’ and young people’s rights to appeal a decision of the LA to the SEN Tribunal. This information should also include routes of complaint and redress for health and social care

EHC assessments and plans

Chapter 9 of the code of practice focuses on EHC needs assessments and plans. In paragraph 9.3, it says:

An LA must conduct an assessment of EHC needs when it considers that it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.

In paragraph 9.5, the code explains that EHC plans should be "forward-looking". They should help raise aspirations and outline the provision required to meet the pupil's needs and support them in achieving their ambitions. It adds:

EHC plans should specify how services will be delivered as part of a whole package and explain how best to achieve the outcomes sought across education, health and social care for the child or young person.

Page 154 shows a flow diagram of the EHC assessment and planning process. The whole process must be completed within 20 weeks.

Another article from The Key explains that EHC plans must include certain sections, and sets out what each of these sections must include.

A further article features sample outcomes for EHC plans.

Agreeing the health provision in EHC plans

Chapter 9 of the code also provides information on how a child’s health provision will be agreed for the purposes of the EHC plan.

Paragraph 9.70 (page 170) explains that each Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will determine which services it will commission to meet the reasonable health needs of the children and young people with SEN for whom it is responsible.

The code says that local clinicians, such as community paediatricians, will participate where relevant in the development of a child’s or young person’s EHC plan. CCGs must ensure that commissioned services are mobilised to participate in the development of EHC plans.

Paragraph 9.76 says that in cases where health care provision or social care provision is to be treated as special educational provision, ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the provision is made rests with the LA, and the child's parent or young person will have the right to appeal to the first-tier tribunal about disagreements over the provision specified.

Personal budgets

Information on the right of young people and parents to request a personal budget from the LA is outlined in paragraphs 9.95 to 9.124. The child or their parents can request a personal budget once the LA has completed the assessment and confirmed that it will prepare an EHC plan. They can also request a personal budget during a statutory review of an existing EHC plan.

Young people over 18

Paragraph 9.155 of the code explains that young people without an EHC plan continue to have the right to request an assessment of their SEN at any point prior to their 25th birthday (unless an assessment has been carried out in the previous six months).

Children and young people with SEN: specific circumstances

Chapter 10 outlines information on supporting children and young people who have SEN and whose individual circumstances require additional consideration.

The chapter covers children and young people with SEN who:

  • Are looked-after or care leavers
  • Have social care needs, including those who are 'children in need'
  • Are educated out of area, in alternative provision, in hospital or at home
  • Are the children of service personnel
  • Are in youth custody

On children and young people who have SEN and are looked after, for example, the code explains in paragraph 10.3 that all schools must have a designated teacher for looked-after children as well as a SENCO, and where these roles are carried out by different individuals they should work closely together to ensure relevant school staff fully understand the implications of a child both being looked after and having SEN.

Paragraph 10.7 adds that where a looked-after child is being assessed for SEN, the information set out in their care plan must be taken into account, and SEN professionals must work closely with other relevant professionals, such as the child's social worker. EHC assessments for looked-after children must be carried out by the LA in which the child is ordinarily resident, which may be different from the LA that looks after the child.

On children and young people with social care needs, paragraph 10.13 of the code explains that LAs have a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of 'children in need' in their area, including children with disabilities, by providing appropriate services to them. This could include short breaks for parents/carers, equipment or adaptations to the home, and support for parents from social workers.

Paragraph 10.18 says that any EHC assessment of a child or young person with social care needs should be a holistic assessment of their education, health and social care needs, and should be combined with social care assessments where appropriate.

The code adds in paragraph 10.19 that EHC plan reviews should be synchronised with social care plan reviews.

A further article from The Key has more detailed information on social care assessments.

Staff training in education settings

Annex 2 of the code of practice also outlines agencies which offer training and support to schools on identifying and teaching pupils with SEN.

Staff handouts 

You can download a KeyDoc handout for teaching staff about the SEND Code of Practice below:

Safeguarding Training Centre

The Key has launched a service to support you with safeguarding training, which is free for members of The Key for School Leaders.

The Safeguarding Training Centre includes a downloadable INSET day safeguarding pack. You will also find a knowledge bank of factsheets explaining specific safeguarding issues, with separate factsheets for DSLs and staff, and training materials on how to conduct effective safeguarding training.

You can find out more from the link below:

Changes from the SEN Code of Practice 2001

Pages 13 and 14 of the code set out the main changes from the SEN Code of Practice 2001:

  • The current SEND Code of Practice covers the 0-25 age range and includes guidance relating to children and young people with a disability as well as those with SEN
  • There is a clearer focus on the views of children and young people and parents in decision making at individual and strategic levels
  • There is a stronger focus on high aspirations and on improving outcomes for children and young people
  • The current code of practice includes guidance on the joint planning and commissioning of services to ensure close co-operation between education, health services and social care
  • It includes guidance on publishing a local offer of support for children and young people with SEN or disabilities
  • There is guidance for education and training settings on taking a graduated approach to identifying and supporting pupils and students with SEN (to replace School Action and School Action Plus)
  • For children and young people with more complex needs, a co-ordinated assessment process and the 0-25 education, health and care (EHC) plan replaces statements and learning difficulty assessments (LDAs)
  • There is greater focus on support that enables those with SEN or disabilities to succeed in their education and make a successful transition to adulthood
  • Information is provided on relevant duties under the Equality Act 2010
  • Information is provided on relevant provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • There is guidance on supporting children and young people with SEN who are in youth custody

Changes from the 2014 Code

In January 2015 the DfE published an updated version of the SEND Code of Practice to replace the July 2014 version.

Below we look at the main changes relevant to schools.

Children and young people with SEN in youth custody

The main change from the July 2014 version of the code is to the information on children and young people with SEN who are in youth custody, set out on page 222, in chapter 10 of the 2015 code. These amendments were made to take into account the Special Educational Needs and Disability (Detained Persons) Regulations 2015, which came into force on 1 April 2015.

Page 6 of the DfE's response to a consultation on the updated version of the code sets out the main alterations to this chapter. In particular, the updated code clarifies roles and responsibilities in relation to supporting integrated working and record sharing between different organisations in the best interests of detained children and young people who have SEN.

The updated code also clarifies responsibilities relating to EHC needs assessments for detained children and young people, and arrangement of the provision outlined in their EHC plans. A section on looked-after children with SEN in custody has also been added.

You can read the information on children and young people with SEN who are in custody in full in chapter 10 of the updated version of the code.

Other changes in the January 2015 update

In addition to changes to the section on children and young people with SEN in custody, other minor changes to the wording of the code were made for the updated version.

The most significant changes for schools are:

  • An emphasis on the need to keep pupils as well as their parents informed (for example, see paragraph 6.39)
  • Clarification of the fact that all children are entitled to an education that is appropriate to their needs, promotes high standards and enables them to fulfil their potential (see paragraph 6.1)
  • An addition to the list of legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 that explains that schools must not discriminate for a reason arising in consequence of a child or young person's disability (see paragraph xix)

 This article was updated in response to a question from the SENCO of a medium-size urban primary school in the west Midlands.

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