£30m for new special educational needs champions

A £30 million fund to support parents to navigate the new special educational needs process, has been announced today by Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson.

The Children and Families Bill, which is currently progressing through Parliament, will make significant changes to the support available for children with Special Educational Needs.

It is hoped that the reforms will bring an end to the battles which families currently face, to get the right support for their disabled child.

The reforms include replacing SEN statements and learning disability assessments with new birth-to-25 Education, Health and Care Plans – which will set out all the support that families will receive in one place.

The new £30 million fund will be used to recruit and train a pool of 'independent supporters' - champions drawn from independent voluntary, community and private organisations - to help the families of children and young people to develop meaningful EHC Plans.

The Council for Disabled Children will invite applications from private, voluntary and community sector organisations who believe they can offer independent supporters from within their ranks.

Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope, says:

“Parents currently face a battle to get the right support for their disabled child, and struggle to find their way around a complex system.

“New Education, Health and Care Plans could make a real difference, by drawing together all the support that they need into one plan.

“But families will need support getting to know this new system. We welcome this additional funding from the Government, which will see families being offered an independent support worker, who will champion the best interests of the child or young person. We know that parents and young people have valued this independent support in pilots that have run across the country.

“We also welcome the Government’s decision to allocate this funding to the voluntary and community sector, overseen by the Council for Disabled Children. This is an explicit vote of confidence in the skills and expertise of the sector in securing best outcomes for disabled children and young people.

“However, the EHC Plan is only part of the Government’s current education reforms. The majority of children and young people using the new system will not get an EHC Plan, and the Government must ensure that their needs are met through improved, accessible local services and child-focus support in schools.”

 

Notes to the editor:

For more information contact the Scope press office on 020 7619 7200 or email pasca.lane@scope.org.uk

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