The Children’s Act 2018 is a document for inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This Act is commonly known as ‘working together to safeguard children 2018’ .
The aim of the Act is to: protect children from maltreatment; prevent impairment of children’s health or development; ensure that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and to take action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.
The biggest education reforms in a generation for children and young people with special educational needs in England became law on Monday 1 September 2014. The new Children and Families Act was designed to offer simpler, improved and consistent help for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and extend provision from birth to 25 years of age. These reforms were intended to give families greater choice in decisions, ensure their children’s needs were properly met, and their rights and protection extended by introducing a new Education, Health & Care (EHC) plan to replace the previous system of School Action/Plus and Statements of Need.
In England it is estimated that 1 in 5 children have Special Educational Needs or Disability ranging from dyslexia to a physical impairment. The reforms outlined in the new SEN & Disability Code of Practice places children and parents at the heart of the system. This document provides guidance to local education authorities, educational settings, and others on carrying out their statutory duties and aims to ensure support fits in with needs and not the other way round resulting in a more joined up system compared with the previously complex and fragmented system.
For children and young people identified as having Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) it has often been difficult to get the support they need to do well and taken too long for their families to find out that their child needs extra help. The new SEN & Disability Code of Practice aims to deal with the problems that prevent children and young people with SEND from getting the support and services they need. The new system should allow them to have the same opportunities and support as everyone else in order to move smoothly into adulthood. According to the Government this is a more effective, transparent and accountable system of support for children and young people with SEND.
More information about the Children and Families Act, the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice, EHC plans, and Exclusions are contained in the following documents which you can download:
If you need information and/or advice about almost anything educational you should find it at one of the following websites:
What is ALN and what’s changing?
In Wales the term “Special Educational Needs and Disabilities” (SEND) is referred to as “Additional Learning Needs” (ALN). The original SEN framework, in place for around 25 years, was replaced by the ALN system, which was established by the 2018 Act. The definition for ALN is:
the learner has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age (that can’t be addressed solely through differentiated teaching); or
the learner has a disability (for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010) which prevents or hinders them accessing education or training that’s generally provided for others of the same age; and
the learning difficulty or disability calls for Additional Learning Provision (ALP).
Currently around 21% of school age children are recognised as having ALN. The Welsh Government expects these pupils to be supported under the new system which will cover the 0-25 age group. This means ALN can be identified and supported from early years through to further education. The new ALN system has three main aims:
Universal, statutory “Individual Development Plans” for all children and young people with ALN. This will end the current distinction between school led interventions and local authority issued statements, and integrate the separate arrangements for pupils in schools and post-16 students in colleges.
Better collaboration between local authorities and health boards, including a designated officer within each health board to liaise with local authorities and schools.
A fairer and more transparent system with greater emphasis on avoiding disagreement and resolving disputes.
A summary of the 2018 Act explains the legislation in more detail and the new system it creates. From September 2021 all learners newly identified as having ALN will be supported through the new system of Individual Development Plans. Pupils already in the SEN system will transition over to the new ALN system starting with those who have low to moderate needs followed by those with more severe or complex needs (who currently have “statements” of SEN). All children affected by ALN will have moved to the new system by 2024 with the timing depending on which year group a pupil is in.
Links for further information are listed below
In Scotland, the term ‘additional support needs’ is used for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended 2009):
Created the term ‘additional support needs’.
Places duties on local authorities to identify, meet and keep under review the needs of pupils for whom they are responsible.
Gives parents a number of rights, including the right to:
Refer decisions to the Additional Support Needs Tribunals for matters concerned with a co-ordinated support plan.
The Supporting Children’s Learning Code of Practice sets out what local authorities and other agencies must do to support children’s and young people’s learning under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended 2009).
By law, education authorities must identify, provide and review the additional support needs of their pupils which can arise in the short or long term as a result of the learning environment, family circumstances, health, wellbeing needs or a disability. Scotland has an inclusive educational system which focuses on overcoming barriers to learning and Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC)
The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act provides the legal framework for identifying and addressing the additional support needs of children and young people who face a barrier, or barriers, to learning. The Act aims to ensure that all children and young people are provided with the necessary support to help them work towards achieving their full potential. It also promotes collaborative working among all those supporting children and young people and sets out the rights of children, young people and parents within the system.
Scotland’s inclusive approach to education enables all children and young people to be part of a community, boosting their emotional wellbeing and aiding the development of social skills. Children and young people should learn in the environment which best suits their needs and inclusive practice is important whatever the setting, whether it be within a mainstream or special school. The presumption of mainstreaming enshrines the right of all children and young people with additional support needs to learn in mainstream schools and early learning and childcare settings.
Further information can be found in the links below:
Around 1 in 5 children in Northern Ireland’s schools have special educational needs. The four main Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) areas are:
Communication and Interaction.
Cognition and Learning.
Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties.
Physical and/or Sensory Needs.
The Department of Education has developed a new “improved and more responsive” SEN Framework. This will comprise three elements:
Primary legislation: Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 (the SEND Act).
Secondary legislation: New SEN Regulations.
Guidance: A new SEN Code of Practice.
In May 2021 it was announced that Northern Ireland would receive £22m for Special Educational Needs (SEN). This significant package of funding, which is for the 2021-22 financial year follows a previous £7.5m that schools received for the period January to March 2021. The funding will be provided to schools to help them implement the new SEN Framework.
More information is available on the following websites:
More and more parents and carers are deciding to home school their children. If you do decide to home school, you might be overwhelmed with questions about how to begin. The most common reasons for parents and carers choosing to home school a child are:
The child’s health issues, particularly mental health issues – for example, anxiety, school phobia, separation anxiety, or depression
Special educational needs not being met within the school system – for example, dyslexia, autism, or gifted and talented needs
The child being bullied (either by peers or their teachers)
The child’s unwillingness or inability to go to school
As a short-term intervention for a particular reason
The parent’s ideological or philosophical views – for example, they might support the concept of ‘unlearning’
Dissatisfaction with the school system that they feel does not suit their child, or unhappy with the National Curriculum
Choosing to home school is not a decision to be made lightly. Being home schooled means that the child’s parents or carers have to take sole responsibility for their child’s education including the costs of any educational resources and exam fees.
There is sometimes the option for a child to do flexi-schooling. This is where the child receives part of their education at a school, college, or other education provider, so that they can take subjects that are difficult to teach from home. Some schools and education providers may not agree with this, but others are happy to do so.
One key benefit if you home school is that you can personalise the education that your child receives according to their interests, needs, ability, and learning style. When education is personalised, children are generally more engaged. Teaching one-to-one gives the child much more attention, and leads to less wasted time. In fact, it’s so efficient that some parents report getting a day’s worth of learning in within two hours. However one area that sometimes proves difficult to resolve is the lack of social interaction with peers that would normally occur within the school setting. Homeschool support groups, co-ops, field trip groups, and park dates all offer opportunities for your child to socialise with other children and make friends. You can search for these groups online; some groups are now on Facebook, so you may want to search there as well.
The efficiency of home schooling – and the fact that you don’t have to follow the national curriculum or the typical timings of a school day – leaves you with time to spend broadening your child’s learning. You can make time for play, projects, real experiments, and the arts. Real-life skill building including cooking, cleaning, volunteering, and learning to budget, could form a part of your school day.
Below are links to websites for more information. There is a plethora of information and resources online – all you have to do is search.