Commissioning for SLCN in the context of the SEND reforms
The “Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years” 7, implemented from September 2014, provides the statutory guidance to Local Authorities, Health bodies and Schools regarding their obligations to ensure that appropriate support for children and young people with special educational needs is provided. This code of practice puts in place the operational changes as a result of the recent legislation in health 8 and for children and families 9.
The key changes to how children and young people with SEN will be supported include:
- The requirements for joint commissioning of provision between Education, Health and Social Care within a Local Authority Area
- The creation of a jointly commissioned Local Offer in each Local Authority Area outlining the support available, or expected to be available in that area (or outside where required), for children and young people with SEN. This applies to children and young people with and without an Education, Health and Care Plan
- Integrated provision as a consequence of joint commissioning. This brings opportunities for building flexible pathways for children and young people, and drawing together a wide range of professionals. However it also brings challenges of co-ordinating the multiple provider organisations that might be part such processes
- Increased responsibility on schools to provide high quality support and to publish the support which they provide for SEN
- The extension of the eligibility for support for SEN to the age of 25 which in turn brings new responsibilities for Colleges
- The increased emphasis on the Early Years from birth, including the need for Health Visitors and Early Years Practitioners to collaborate to ensure that needs are identified in the year a child is two
- The introduction of Education, Health and Care Plans which will replace Statements of SEN and must focus on the outcomes and aspirations of the child, young person and their family
- The entitlement to a personal budget and direct payment for elements of SEN support outlined in the Education, Health and Care Plan
Children and young people with SLCN represent a significant proportion of children and young people with SEN: 31.6% of pupils with statements or at school action plus in state-funded primary schools in England have SLCN as their primary type of need10. In some areas of high disadvantage, upward of 50% of children enter school with poor speech, language and communication skills11.
Effective commissioning for SLCN is therefore of prime importance given the significant numbers of children, young people and families experiencing difficulties in this area.
Figure 3, below, taken from the SEND Code of Practice 0 to 25, shows the continuum from the joint strategic needs assessment (JSNA) in a given local authority area to the Education, Health and Care Plan at the individual level. A joint commissioning plan involving the Local Authority and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and often co-ordinated via the Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB) is articulated through a Local Offer for all children and young people with SEN whether or not they have an Education, Health and Care Plan.
Although not shown in this diagram, there is a requirement on schools to also produce a published offer making it clear to parents what the school can provide to support children and young people with SEND. There is a clear responsibility on individual schools to commission support directly for their pupils using delegated funds and pupil premium. Finally at the level of the individual family, the introduction of personal budgets will effectively allow families of children and young people commission the support they want directly from a provider.
Some children and young people will have specialist health needs (with or without SEN) where the responsibility for commissioning the specialist services they require will sit with NHS England. More information regarding the specific areas which are commissioned in this way can be found on the NHS England website12. In practice, those children and young people whose specialist health needs are met through specialist commissioning are highly likely to have other needs as part of their overall profile which will fall within the Local Offer and therefore it is important for local commissioners to be aware of the additional needs of these children and young people.
Specialist health needs are met through specialist commissioning are highly likely to have other needs as part of their overall profile which will fall within the Local Offer and therefore it is important for local commissioners to be aware of the additional needs of these children and young people.
7. DfE(2014) Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years DFE-00205-2013 HMSO https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25
8. Health and Social Care Act, 2012 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/7/contents/enacted
9. Children and Families Act, 2014 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/6/contents/enacted
10. Department for Education (2014), Special Educational Needs in England: January 2014. See the national tables 10A. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/special-educational-needs-in-england-january-2014
11. Locke, E., Ginsborg, J., and Peers, I. (2002) Development and Disadvantage: implications for early years. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. 27 (1) 3 -15