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News story

Reforming Special Educational Needs

Tuesday, May 15 2012

School Classroom

The Government has set out plans for the biggest reform of Special Educational Needs (SEN) for 30 years.

The reforms will put parents in charge, giving them the power to control personal budgets for their children – meaning they can choose the expert support that is right for their child, instead of local authorities being the sole provider.

The plans will require education, health and social care services to plan services together by law – so when their children are assessed, parents will be assured they will get full provision to address their children’s needs.

The main elements are:

  • Replacing SEN statements and separate Learning Difficulty Assessments with a single, simpler assessment process and education plan from 2014. Parents with the plans would have the right to a personal budget for their support.
  • Local authorities and health services will be required to link up services for disabled children and young people – so they are jointly planned and commissioned.
  • Requiring local authorities to publish a local offer showing the support available to disabled children and young people and those with SEN, and their families.
  • Introducing mediation for disputes and trialling giving children the right to appeal if they are unhappy with their support.
  • Children would have a new legal right to seek a place at state academies and Free Schools – currently it is limited to maintained mainstream and special schools. Local authorities would have to name the parent’s preferred school so long it was suitable for the child.

Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children, the Government’s strategic partner on its SEN reforms, said:

"We are delighted that the government continues to support disabled children and those with special educational needs. Tackling the battleground for families by ensuring joined up local services and clear local information is to be warmly welcomed."

Please visit the Department for Education website for more information.


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