As autumn began, Early Years providers started the term with the news that the government was introducing a new Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice.

Whilst some settings have limited knowledge about the reforms, it is very important that all childcare providers know how to implement the new changes and understand the impact it has on their practice. The code, which came into force on 1 September 2014, applies to:

  • Head teachers and principals
  • governing bodies
  • school and college staff
  • SEN coordinators
  • early education providers
  • health and social services staff
  • local authorities

What will the changes include?

The changes include:

  • the introduction of an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC) to replace statements of Special Educational Need (SEN) and Learning Disability Assessments (LDAs)
  • changing the existing SEN code of practice
  • making personal budgets available to parents to buy some of the support they need

What is the aim of the reforms?

The revised code of practice recognises that some children in England who have special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) do not get the appropriate and necessary support which is fundamental for their development. It addresses the need to help ensure these children make a happy and successful transition into their adult lives.

When will it happen?

The government is phasing the changes in order to ensure that support is maintained through the transition period and the new system is not overwhelmed. The time frame for delivery ranges from the spring term 2015 to April 2018.

What part does my local authority play?

All local authorities will need to publish a document called a “Local Offer” which will tell young people with SEND and their parents about the support and services available in their local area.

Local authorities are expected to engage with EY settings about their SEND provision to compile this “Local Offer”, which may be carried out via questionnaires, training days or local working groups.

What should I do?

Once settings have a good understanding of the new framework, they can start to plan and make changes in their own SEND provision. Some settings have already starting to produce their own “offer” for parents, giving them information about the support, resources and curriculum available if their child is identified as having SEN.

Where can I find out more?

The Department for Education has put together a 27 page specific guide to help staff working in EY settings to understand their duties and responsibilities under the reforms. Alternatively, you can contact your local authority to find out more.

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