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Education Law

Expert Education Law advice courtesy of the dedicated team of nationally respected specialist lawyers at HCB.

  • Comprehensive advice on all aspects of education law
  • Proven expertise in special educational needs and higher education law

SEN Code of Practice in England

In July 2014, the Department for Education (DfE) published a new Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice. When it came into force in September the same year, it replaced the 2001 code. It was further updated in January 2015 and now reflects the changes brought in by the Children and Families act 2014. Its official name is the Special Educational Need and Disability code of Practice: 0 to 25 years.

The 2001 Code continues to apply for anyone who still has a SEN Statement under Part 4 of the Education Act 1996 that has not yet been converted to an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan under the Children and Families Act 2014.

What are the main changes brought in by the Children and Families Act 2014?

The Children and Families Act was introduced with the aim of simplifying and improving the assistance available for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Provision was extended from birth to 25 years of age and the Act introduced the Education, Health and Care Plan to replace the SEN Statement with the objective of making support for families more tailored.

Who is the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for?

The SEND Code of Practice was devised to explain the responsibilities of Local Authorities, educational establishments such as early education settings, schools and academies together with health organisations to those with special educational needs in accordance with the Children and Families Act 2014. The Code is for Head Teachers and Academy Principals; Governing Bodies; school staff; SEN coordinators; Local Authorities; early education providers and health and social services personnel.

What do parents need to know about the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice?

Whenever a decision is made by a school concerning children with special educational needs or disabilities, consideration must be given to the SEND Code of Practice. It details the legal requirements that must be followed – without exception – and provides statutory guidance that must be adhered to by law, unless a valid reason exists not to.

It is useful for parents to be aware of the duties placed on schools by the SEND Code of Practice. These are as follows:

  • Schools must be sure to identify and address the special educational needs (SEN) of the pupils under their care.
  • Parents and pupils should be actively involved in all the decision making processes.
  • Schools are expected to use their best endeavours to ensure children with SEN receive adequate support.
  • A teacher has to be assigned as responsible coordinator for all SEN provisions, other than in academies for 16 to 19 year olds.
  • All schools must have a member of the Governing Body or sub-committee allocated to oversee the SEN and disability provision.
  • All pupils with SEN should engage in the same activities alongside other pupils.
  • Schools are required to inform parents when they are making special educational provision for pupils.
  • A SEN information report must be prepared.

Medical conditions are also covered under the Code and the Children and Families Act 2014 provides that maintained schools and academies are required to make arrangements to support pupils with medical conditions.

Also under the Code, pupils have a right to a balanced and broad curriculum and there is a requirement to plan lessons around potential areas of difficulty. Any barriers to achievement must also be overcome.

How does the Special Needs Code of Practice relate to the Equality Act 2010?

Under the Equality Act 2010, further education and sixth form colleges, 16-19 academies and independent special schools that fall under the Children and Families Act 2014 have various duties to follow relating to special needs and disability.

As such, educational establishments should not discriminate against, victimise or harass disabled pupils, and they are required to make reasonable adjustments so that pupils are not placed at a disadvantage.

Advance planning should be applied so that consideration is given to what disabled children and young pupils could potentially require and what adjustments may be needed to ensure they are not put at a disadvantage.

The Act also places broader duties on schools to prevent discrimination, to foster good relations and to promote equality of opportunity.

How can HCB help if my child has special needs?

HCB Solicitors has been supporting families of children with special needs for many years and our experts are respected nationwide for their specialist knowledge in the field of special needs education and disability discrimination in schools and further education.

With in-depth understanding of the current laws and statutory requirements placed on schools, and of the various governing Acts such as the Equality Act 2010 and the Children and Families Act 2014, we are able to advise parents on every aspect of their child’s special educational needs.

For parents facing issues due to a failure to comply with the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice in England, we are able to provide guidance and support through the full complaints process.

If you believe your child has been unfairly treated at any stage and their school or the Local Authority has failed to comply under the Code of Practice and adequately deal with their special educational needs we can represent you and, if required, lodge and manage an appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. This includes instances where there has been a refusal to issue an Education, Health and Care Plan or to implement one.

 

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