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Education Legal services for Families, in particular, Special Educational Needs & Disability
Education Lawyers

SEND information

Navigating the SEND system can seem like a minefield, so we have collated some helpful information to help you understand what it all means and how to start.

Starting on your journey to get the additional help your child needs is a daunting, and often frustrating journey. Most of the time, you won’t need a lawyer to help, so we have collated some useful SEND information that can help you along the way.

Most children with special educational needs are helped at the lower, non-statutory, SEN Support. This is funded by the school’s own SEN budget, called the delegated budget. It is not designated for individual pupils, but to help all the children in school with SEND. Read our information page about SEN Support here

However, sometimes, this school-based level of support is insufficient to support the child’s needs. These SEND Information pages will help you understand SEND in schools and colleges. If you do get to the stage where you think our expert legal knowledge can assist you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ll be delighted to schedule in a conversation, email or appointment.

SEND Information

SEND law: The Children and Families Act 2014

In 2014, the law for special educational needs was changed with the passing of the Children and Families Act. Education, Health and Care plans replaced the previous Statements of SEN. EHCPs are legal documents that set out the special educational needs, health needs and social care requirements of a child or young person aged 0-25 years.

It also states the provision that must be made to meet those needs. The expected result of the interventions – known as outcomes – must also be included. These can be short or long-term objectives and they must be updated every year.

Legal definition

A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she—

(a) has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
(b) has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.

Children and Families Act 2014

The quote above, from the Children and Families Act 2014, is the legal test for an Education, Health and Care Plan. It hasn’t changed since the previous legislation, despite what many parents have been told.

An EHCP can be for a child from birth up to an adult, aged 25. When an EHC plan has been finalised, the local authority is responsible for putting in place the provision contained within it.

A child does not need to have health and social care needs to be eligible for a plan, but they must have additional educational needs.

Designed to be holistic

An EHCP, also known as an EHC Plan, is designed to be holistic and include all a child’s educational, health and social care needs in one legally-enforceable document. This means your child or young person, and the professionals working with them can access the elements of support they need, whether it is provided by education, health or social care services.

If you feel your child meets the legal test above, you can apply for a statutory assessment of their needs with a view or obtaining legally-enforceable provision to meet their needs. Your child can be anything from a new baby up to the age of 25 to be eligible.

They do not have to attend a local authority educational setting or any educational setting. An EHCP can also be made for a young person who is attending college, a supported internship or an apprenticeship, or who would like to do so. Unfortunately, a young person with SEND in higher education, such as a university, is not eligible, although they will most probably qualify for Disabled Students Allowance. This is not legally binding but is much easier to access.

Myths about SEND

If you wish to apply for a statutory assessment, you may be told incorrect information about what must happen before that is allowed. Please note, the only thing that is relevant is the legal test in the quote above.

They do NOT have to attend a local authority educational setting, or indeed, any educational setting. An EHCP can also be made for a young person who is attending college, a supported internship or an apprenticeship, or who would like to do so.

Additionally, as explained in our page on refusal to assess, your child does NOT have to have been through a certain number of SEN Support “cycles”, known as Assess, Plan, Do Review (APDR) before you can apply. You do NOT need permission from the school and your child does NOT have to be so many years or levels of ability behind their peers to be eligible.

Higher Education
NOTE: Unfortunately, a young person with SEND in higher education, such as a university, is not eligible for an EHCP, although they will most probably qualify for Disabled Students Allowance. This is not legally binding but is much easier to access.

SEND information sections

These pages under SEND Info contain general information about the SEND system and legal process. They are not a substitute for expert legal advice personalised for your own situation. As such, please do not rely on anything under this section if you need to appeal your case but get in touch for individual advice. It is accurate information, but for general guidance only.

SEN support
About EHCPs
EHCPs 16-25
statutory assessment
EHCPs in the early years
ALN in Wales
SEN resources

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