The Government have today published a Green Paper on Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Disability, which sets out plans for the future of services and support for children with SEN.
The Green Paper proposes a single assessment for children with SEN, to result in a single plan covering education, health and care. Ambitious about Autism welcomes the potential to coordinate services better for families, but is clear that this assessment and support package must be legally binding and enforceable if it is to protect families from the cuts.
Jolanta Lasota, Ambitious about Autism’s CEO comments: “Any attempt to make the system easier for parents will fail unless the legal right for children to access services is retained and enforced. We welcome the Government’s ambition to improve support for children with SEN but rights must be protected in a climate of cuts.”
Sarah Gentleman, who has a son at TreeHouse School, adds: “Many parents fight for years to get the services their child needs. To lose this legal right now would be devastating for the 1 in 100 children that have autism and for their families.”
The legal right to services is critical at a time when local authorities are making deep cuts to SEN budgets. Recent research by Ambitious about Autism has found that 11 of the 16 local authorities referring to its flagship service TreeHouse School were planning to make substantial cuts to services including school transport, speech and language therapists and educational psychologists.
Jolanta Lasota comments: “The Green Paper is published against a back-drop of deep cuts with tens of millions of pounds being taken out of vital SEN services. Many parents and professionals have contacted us to express their fears for a service that could be lost as result of funding cuts.”
She adds: “If the Green Paper takes away the legal right to service, it will leave thousands of parents and their children vulnerable to losing the services they rely on.”
Ambitious about Autism welcomes the aims in the Green paper to:
- identify children’s special educational needs earlier
- co-ordinate services more effectively for families
- extend support for young people up to the age of 25
- improve training in SEN for teachers and share SEN expertise better across schools
- give families more control over their own care package
You can read the Green Paper on the DfE website.
Watch Jolanta Lasota talking about the Green Paper on Teacher TV.
You can read our press release in our media centre.
We are urging parents to know their rights and we've created a guide to help protect them from the cuts.