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Council host special educational needs roundtable

Education: Secondary / Wed 16th Jul 2014 at 09:02am

treebeatOFFICERS from Essex County Council recently took part in a Ministerial roundtable on implementing the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) reforms at the Department for Education after being identified as one of the “leading lights” in implementing the reforms.

Chris Kiernan, Director for Education and Lifelong Learning, and Anne-Marie Blackshaw, Head of Commissioning and Lifelong Learning and SEND lead, were alongside ten other local authorities attending the roundtable with Edward Timpson MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, Tom Jeffrey, the Director General of Children’s Services and Departmental Strategy Directorate in the Department for Education, and Cllr David Simmonds from the Local Government Association.

Anne-Marie said: “It was a great privilege to attend the Ministerial roundtable and to be congratulated on the progress we have made in Essex. The SEND reforms will transform provision across the county and to be recognised by the Minister as leading the way should give families in Essex the confidence that we will be ready to support and guide them once the reforms come in to place in September.”

The roundtable discussed learnings from each of the authorities on community engagement and the role of parents in developing and implementing the reforms, particularly using parents as advocates and facilitators.

The SEND reforms are a result of the Children and Families Act. The main changes included within the Act are:

– to produce a ‘local offer’ which details the services to support children and young people with SEND and their families in a clear transparent way so they can understand what is available

– to replace SEN statements with a new birth to 25 education, health and care plan – ensuring joint assessment, planning and commissioning of services

– to provide an entitlement for parents, families and carers and young people themselves to have greater choice and control over the services they receive through the introduction of personal budgets

– to provide greater powers for the local authority to continue services post 18 and introduce new protections for young people aged 16-25 – helping to ensure smoother transitions to adulthood

– to extend the SEND legal obligations of maintained schools to Further Education Colleges and academies (including free schools)

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