As if we’re not all baffled enough by the endless string of acronyms in teaching, we now have the perplexing semantic switch from SEN to SEND in the recent Code of Practice (CoP) to contend with. 

Some teachers have expressed their confusion about why we now need the D in the acronym. Apart from actually making it easier to say, the D represents disability, and the need for the semantic shift is really to address our understanding of the differences between special educational needs and disabilities. Essentially a learner with impaired vision may have special educational needs, whereas one who is completely blind is therefore disabled. Semantically.

This article sets out to first explain the changes, the impacts, and what the SEND reformations mean for schools and teachers, and secondly to alleviate some of the main concerns teachers have with the code.

With a system only finalised toward the end of the school year, and no hard copy provision of the new DfE guidance from the government, it is understandable that many people began the new term without fully understanding the alterations. Explained in more detail within our attractive paperback versions of the DfE guidance, essentially, the idea is for staff to recognise emergent needs earlier, in order to implement more cohesive and holistic support to young people with SEN and disabilities in the 0 to 25 age bracket. Also, there is a pronounced focus on parental and age dependent individual input regarding support.

The main points contained within our guide are set out below; followed by an analysis of the actual Code of Practice itself; also available for schools to purchase as a paperback.

The biggest changes

The onus is shifted to parents or individuals themselves to make decisions regarding provision

Similar to the Every Child Matters initiative, the new approach is person-centred. What this  means is that since parents and, later, the pupils themselves have a greater understanding of the exact support required; they have a say in any provision offered. In some cases, parents and learners will be asked to contribute to planning, by assessing their development within a specialised framework. The guide for parents, written by the DfE, provides a fantastic resource for both parents and schools alike to help understand this new way of doing things.

Mental capacity explained

A learner’s mental capacity will be evaluated, and if a person is deemed to lack the mental capacity to participate in contributing to their provision, normally the responsibility will fall to the parent or carer. It must be assumed that anyone does have the mental capacity unless proven otherwise and the guide outlines the strict criteria in further detail.

Statements are being phased out

Documents previously referred to as statements and LDAs are being replaced by an Education Health and Care Plan (EHC), which focus on the holistic aspect of the new SEND CoP.

Revision of Action Plans

Unification of the School Action Plans and School Action Plus removes the hierarchical nature and will incur termly assessment of intervention goals. Any additional support given to any student must be documented.

Achievement for all – accountability

The modus operandi of the reformation is to guarantee that all students are making personalprogress. The CoP empowers teachers, parents and learners to ensure individual achievements are recorded. Since the majority of accountability falls to schools still, they need to ensure SENCos and all staff have sufficient training in recognising and providing for SEND.


Does the new CoP mean teachers will have to spend longer planning?

Essentially, the changes should actually make planning for SEND provision a little lighter on teachers because learners and parents are encouraged to have input.

Will learners still have Independent Supporters/TAs

Theoretically more will get individual support from TAs. Families having a say in the most effective form of provision means they can opt for this support throughout the day or in certain lesson.

What training will be available?

SENCos far and wide have been attending free training hubs provided by integrated therapy support services, focusing on training staff to identify emergent needs and understand the different external therapies and services available.

Also training towards an accredited Independent Supporters status is under development by the Council for Disabled Children (CDC). This means Independent Supporters will have adept expertise in working with parents and young people, as well as in-depth experience and understanding of SEN and disability features and methods of support.

What exactly does holistic support mean?

Whilst the NHS is looking to deliver an increased amount of integrated care because the framework suggests effective communication is key; their services will still be charged out, which means private services are an equally viable option. Overall the idea is to ensure care is centred on the child; sometimes meaning they’ll be assessed in a surgery or specialist unit. Ultimately it means better communication between schools, healthcare providers and carers.


Where can I find out more?

Unfortunately, the government do not provide hard copies of these DfE guidelines, which explain the Code of Practice and the Schools’ Guide in more detail. However, paperback copies are available to purchase from at cost effective prices, and feel free to communicate via facebook and we’ll do our best to answer your queries.

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