The biggest education reforms in a generation for children and young people with special educational needs in England became law on Monday 1 September 2014. The new Children and Families Act was designed to offer simpler, improved and consistent help for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and extend provision from birth to 25 years of age. These reforms were intended to give families greater choice in decisions, ensure their children’s needs were properly met, and their rights and protection extended by introducing a new Education, Health & Care (EHC) plan to replace the previous system of School Action/Plus and Statements of Need.

In England 1 in 5 children has Special Educational Needs or Disability, ranging from dyslexia to a physical impairment. The reforms outlined in the new SEN & Disability Code of Practice places children and parents at the heart of the system. This document provides guidance to local education authorities, educational settings, and others on carrying out their statutory duties and aims to ensure support fits in with needs and not the other way round resulting in a more joined up system compared with the previously complex and fragmented system.

For children and young people identified as having Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) it has often been difficult to get the support they need to do well and taken too long for their families to find out that their child needs extra help. The new SEN & Disability Code of Practice aims to deal with the problems that prevent children and young people with SEND from getting the support and services they need. The new system should allow them to have the same opportunities and support as everyone else in order to move smoothly into adulthood. According to the Government this is a more effective, transparent and accountable system of support for children and young people with SEND.

More information about the Children and Families Act, the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice, EHC plans, and Exclusions are contained in the following documents which you can download:

Special educational needs and disabilites guide for parents and carers.pdf

SEND flow chart leaflet.pdf

EHC checklist-2014.pdf

SEN & EHC Plans England May 2016.pdf

DfE SEND data on statements and EHC plans May 2017

Parental Request Model letter.docx

Exclusions - Draft Statutory Guidance 2017.pdf

If you need information and/or advice about almost anything educational you should find it at one of the following websites:



The Welsh Government have been working on a new legislative framework for supporting children and young people. SEN law in Wales is changing. The proposed changes are, in some ways, similar to the changes following from the Children and Families Act 2014 in England, but also differ in some respects. Key aspects of the SEN law changes are:

  • Statements, School Action and School Action Plus to be replaced by single category of ALN (equivalent to Special Educational Needs (SEN) in England)
  • Additional Learning Provision (ALP) is to replace Special Educational Provision – no real change
  • All children under ALN will have an Individual Development Plan (IDP) to be reviewed annually (equivalent to an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in England)
  • The IDP will go up to 25 years
  • The IDP will include health and social care needs and provision.
  • Duty on local authorities (LA) to favour education at mainstream maintained schools
  • The power of LAs to secure ALP at independent schools will be limited
  • The draft ALN Code of Practice is similar in many ways to the new SEND Code of Practice in England

For further information visit the following websites:



The Scottish Government have their own Guidelines for Special Educational Needs. The Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP, launched a Governance Review of early years and schools education on the 13th of September 2016. More information can be found on the following websites: Support for Learning



The Department of Education for Northern Ireland has guidance for Education, Library Boards, and schools in the form of a Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs and also a Supplement to the Code of Practice. This became effective on 1st September 2005. More information can be obtained from:



For some parents and children home-schooling may be preferred in which case the following document may be helpful together with the websites listed below:



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