What the new law would change in North Yorkshire for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

The following information has been provided by NYCC as an update to what is happening in relation to the SEND reforms taking place due to the Children and Families Bill. 

The Children and Families Bill, going through Parliament at the moment, will simplify assessment and planning for children and families with special educational needs (SEN) and for the first time will give the same rights to 16-25 year olds, who have left school, to ask for an assessment of their needs, make choices about which college they want to go to and appeal about the support they receive if it is not what they want.

1. To get education, health and social care services working together 

What the law will probably say:

There will be a duty on local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Health to commission services and provision together for children and young people with SEN. 

What North Yorkshire say:

We are working with our colleagues in the four CCGs in North Yorkshire about what this means for health services, and also with the CCG which covers the Craven area.  The first services to be considered for joint commissioning, with the City of York, are likely to be those which meet the needs of children and young people with speech, language and communication needs.  We have also begun to plan for a 14-25 integrated Transitions Service with colleagues in Adults’ Social Care (HAS) and in Health.

2. To make sure children, young people and families know what help they can get when a child or young person has special educational needs

What the law will probably say:

All local authorities will have to publish a Local Offer describing all the services normally available to children, young people and their families and how you can use them. It will say what help there is for travelling to school or college; for training, for work and for preparing to live independently. 

What North Yorkshire say:

A working draft is now on a local authority website and a public version will be available on-line by the end of September. After that we will think how else we can make it available to those who do not have internet access. We are trying to develop a young people’s version of the Local Offer linked to the Youth Services website as well as a parents’ and professionals’ version on the County Council website as part of a much bigger county-wide Community Directory. A group of school Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCos), early years’ managers and Special Educational Needs staff in colleges have been involved in writing local offer summary advice for settings, schools and colleges and this information has been shared through special needs networks. Parents and young people have also been closely involved with advising on these developments.

3. To make sure that different organisations work together to help children and young people with special educational needs

What the law will probably say:

The new law will expect many organisations to work together to make help and support to families better. These will include other councils, schools the council maintains, academy schools, special schools and colleges, nurseries, other early years settings, further education and sixth form colleges, youth offending teams, hospitals and other parts of the health service.

What North Yorkshire say:

We have been meeting with people who work in all of these places and organisations to talk with them about what the new law means for the ways that they work with us. The new Education, Health and Care plans will help us to work together to make sure young people can achieve the outcomes we have agreed with them. 

We want to be able to develop services together, agree how we can get better value for money and how we can do a better job of meeting young people’s special needs between us.

4.To give children and young people and their parents more say about the help they get

What the law will probably say:

Councils must take notice of what children and young people with special educational needs, and their parents, have to say about what help they are given. Their wishes and their feelings would have to be taken into account too.

What North Yorkshire say:

The Local Offer is the description of all the Services and provision normally available for people with special needs and disabilities. It will also allow people to comment on the information and how it is presented so we can review and improve it as we go along. Every education, health and care assessment will involve a meeting between the family and the professionals to agree what help will be needed so that the young person makes progress.

5. The Government is suggesting that one overall assessment will look at what special help a child or young person needs with their education, and their health and social care needs, all at the same time

What the law will probably say:

There would be a new type of assessment, looking at the child or young person’s special educational needs, together with their health and social care needs. A young person or their parent could ask the council to do an assessment. Or the child or young person’s school or college could ask the council to do an assessment. The council would then have to decide whether the child or young person needs special help with their education. It would have to ask either the young person, or their parent, what they think. 

What North Yorkshire say:

Whilst you or anyone who works with your child can ask the local authority to do an assessment, we would like to know some things about your son or daughter before we can make that decision. We will ask one of the professionals, who knows you well, to sit down with you and talk to you about what is going well, what is not going so well, what is important now and in the future and what you want your child to be able to do that he or she cannot do now. 

If you are a child or young person you will have your chance to tell us anything important about yourself that will help us to understand how we can help to make life better for you. 

If the local authority then agrees to go ahead with the assessment, we will use that information to help us decide who else we need to ask for advice and we will not ask you to tell us the same things again.

6. The idea is for a child or young person to have one plan for meeting their education, health and social care needs, which can run from birth to 25 if it needs to

What the law will probably say:

To replace the ‘Statement’ of special educational needs or the ‘Learning Difficulty Assessment’ that children and young people get now, there will be a new plan for how the child or young person can get the help they need with their education, health and social care. This would be called an ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’ (EHC Plan). You will be asked what you want to achieve. As well as saying what help the child or young person needs with their education, the plan would say what they should be able to achieve if they get that help.

What North Yorkshire say:

We have agreed how we want to change assessments and planning to include educational, health and social care needs. We are trying to cut down the number of times you have to tell us the same information and we have agreed that the plan will be drafted at a meeting between the family and those professionals who have given us their advice. The EHC plan will focus on outcomes for young people – what do you want your child to be able to do that he or she cannot do now? We will then talk about what support your child will need to achieve those agreed outcomes and then we will decide together which services or what provision would be best able to give that support.

7. To make sure children, young people and their parents can choose some of the help they need

What the law will probably say:

Under the new law, a young person who has an EHC plan, or their parent, could ask the local council to give them their own ‘personal budget’. This is the amount of money the council has to pay for the help they need with their education, health and social care. The young person or their parent could ask for some or all of this money as a ‘direct payment’ to spend on the help they need. Or they could agree how the council will spend it on helping them.

What North Yorkshire say:

If we agree to do an assessment and to write an Education, Health and Care Plan, then we will ask you if you want to have a ‘personal budget’. We will work out the cost of all of the services and provision agreed in the Plan and that total is the young person’s personal budget. 

We will talk to you as parents or if you are a young adult, about whether you want us to: 

  1. look after the money and make the provision as agreed in the Plan; 
  2. give some or all of it to a third party, perhaps a voluntary agency, to manage it for you; 
  3. give you some or all of it as a ‘direct payment’ for you to buy your own support, in which case we will pay the money into your account and ask you from time to time how you have spent it and how it is helping you to achieve the outcomes we agreed together.

8. To help sort things out if a child or young person or their parent needs to appeal about the help they get

What the law will probably say:

At the moment parents can appeal about the help their child or young person is getting. Under the new law, young adults will be able to appeal themselves about the help they are getting, whether they are still in school or attending a college. If a young person or their parent wants to make an appeal, you will be told about how a ‘mediator’ can help you and the local authority to make the right decision without taking sides.

What North Yorkshire say:

We are considering how best to provide advice and guidance, dispute resolution and mediation.  This might involve changes to the Parent Partnership Service.  We are talking to other Local Authorities nearby about a joint mediation service that is not a direct part of any Local Authority so they can remain neutral when listening and helping us all to reach sensible agreements. 

How families and young people have been involved in these proposals

  • We will think carefully about how we can promote the involvement of children and young people, parents and carers in these developments.  We would like participation to be meaningful and at all stages of the process.
  • We have been working with the parent and carer forum, NYPACT, and with the Flying High Group of young disabled adults to agree what the Local Offer should look like, what questions it should answer and where the information should be published.  We have had some very helpful feedback from both groups that has led us to make changes to improve them.
  • At their suggestion, the Flying High Group is going to help us produce a DVD about different professional roles to clarify the services they may come into contact with and how they can help.
  • We talked through how we propose to conduct an EHC assessment and plan with a group of parents and carers, listened to their suggestions and made some changes to the format and to the forms as a result.
  • We are still talking within the Local Authority about how we can make this work so families and young adults can have a single payment from all of the organisations rather than face three or four different accounting systems. When we are clearer how this can be done then we will let you know.

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