Special Educational Needs (SEN) Legal Solicitors
Overview of the 2014 Changes
2014 sees great changes in the assessment and delivery of SEN. The changes are the most significant in a generation and will no doubt pose challenges for parents, children, young people (YP) and professionals working with them.
It is a very brave new world - and what happens next is an unknown.
The new Code of Practice runs to over 280 pages and deals with all educational settings, with an age range of 0 - 25 years. Obligations on health, education and social care are all covered. Statements are replaced by Education, Health & Care Plans.
In school, the categories of School Action and School Action Plus are replaced by a single, in school assessment process. The new SEN Code emphasises the importance of parental, children and young people’s views and looks to encourage the use of Personal Budgets (PB) to tailor provision to specific individual needs. The Local Offer should be a fantastic resource that sets out statutory, voluntary, healthcare and social care services that are available locally to really inform individual choices.
Then there is transition planning, accessing training and education provision post 16 is a very important element of any young adult’s world. The new Code has plenty to say about this process. Historically the process of transition has always been a major challenge and many people have very unsatisfactory experiences. Hopefully this new process will put this right. We shall wait and see.
Navigating these new processes, the interlinking between health, education and social care will bring its own challenges. Understanding the legal basis of assessments, the distinctness between children and adult services, the obligations on agencies to work together and ask questions just once will be important.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 may also be relevant for some young people. After their 16th birthday a capacity assessment may be required. The presumption is that everyone has capacity to make their own choices, unless assesses otherwise. If a person lacks capacity then decisions made on their behalf must be in their Best Interests. This can be a confusing process.
As a SEN solicitor, I can offer advice, support and SEN legal representation to ensure rights are respected and views are taken into account.
Challenging professional misconceptions and misunderstandings can help get right outcomes for young people.
Knowing your rights, how to access the right services and challenge decisions will be key to getting the best outcomes for you or your children. There is more information about all of these under the separate headings.
Please do sign up for Factsheets. I am also happy to attend groups and meetings to outline the changes.