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Visual Impairment :
Special Educational Needs
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CHILDREN AND FAMILIES ACT 2014

In September 2014 the Children and Families Act was enacted resulting in considerable changes to SEN procedures. The SEN Code of Practice was reissued detailing the new organisation, arrangements and procedures, with a transition period for Statements of Special Educational Need to be replaced with Education, Health and Care plans.

THE LOCAL OFFER

Local Authorities were required to provide details of all services and provisions in their area in a published Local Offer. These are usually on the LA's web-site. These are links to the local offers web-sites of the three LAs in Sussex.

You should locate and visit the Local Offer web-site in your Local Authority.

Click here to go to the Gov.uk page to locate your Local Authority

Many visually impaired children require a considerable amount of support and modification of work in order to access the curriculum on a par with their sighted peers. In many cases the amount of support is greater than the school would normally be able to provide. The Local Authority must publish a “Local Offer”, which sets out in one place information about provision they expect to be available across education, health and social care for children and young people in their area who have SEN or are disabled, including those who do not have Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

The SEN Code of Practice states that :

The Local Offer has two key purposes:

  • To provide clear, comprehensive, accessible and up-to-date information about the available provision and how to access it, and

  • To make provision more responsive to local needs and aspirations by directly involving disabled children and those with SEN and their parents, and disabled young people and those with SEN, and service providers in its development and review.

Paragraph 4.2

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 provide a common framework for the Local Offer. They specify the requirements that all local authorities must meet in developing, publishing and reviewing their Local Offer, and cover:

  • the information to be included

  • how the Local Offer is to be published

  • who is to be consulted about the Local Offer

  • how children with SEN or disabilities and their parents and young people with SEN or disabilities will be involved in the preparation and review of the Local Offer, and

  • the publication of comments on the Local Offer and the local authority’s response, including any action it intends to take in relation to those comments

Paragraph 4.6

The Local Offer should be:

  • collaborative : local authorities must involve parents, children and young people in developing and reviewing the Local Offer. They must also cooperate with those providing services

  • accessible  the published Local Offer should be easy to understand, factual and jargon free. It should be structured in a way that relates to young people’s and parents’ needs (for example by broad age group or type of special educational provision). It should be well signposted and well publicised

  • comprehensive : parents and young people should know what support is expected to be available across education, health and social care from age 0 to 25 and how to access it. The Local Offer must include eligibility criteria for services where relevant and make it clear where to go for information, advice and support, as well as how to make complaints about provision or appeal against decisions

  • up to date : when parents and young people access the Local Offer it is important that the information is up to date

  • transparent : the Local Offer should be clear about how decisions are made and who is accountable and responsible for them

What information is in the Local Offer ?

The local offer should be detailed and comprehensive information about all aspects of the education, health and social care provision available to the child/young person with special educational needs, so goes beyond purely educational provision. Each Local Authority will publish their information, and in most cases will be accessible through their web-sites. The SEN Code of Practice states what information should be available.

Paragraph 4.30 describes what the Local Offer must include, which is information about :

  • special educational, health and social care provision for children and young people with SEN or disabilities – this should include online and blended learning

  • details of how parents and young people can request an assessment for an EHC plan

  • arrangements for identifying and assessing children and young people’s SEN – this should include arrangements for EHC needs assessments

  • other educational provision, for example sports or arts provision, paired reading schemes

  • post-16 education and training provision

  • apprenticeships, traineeships and supported internships

  • information about provision to assist in preparing children and young people for adulthood

  • arrangements for travel to and from schools, post-16 institutions and early years providers

  • support to help children and young people move between phases of education (for example from early years to school, from primary to secondary)

  • sources of information, advice and support in the local authority’s area relating to SEN and disabilities including information and advice provided under Section 32 of the Children and Families Act 2014, forums for parents and carers and support groups

  • childcare, including suitable provision for disabled children and those with SEN

  • leisure activities

  • support available to young people in higher education, particularly the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) and the process and timescales for making an application for DSA

  • arrangements for resolving disagreements and for mediation, and details about making complaints

  • parents’ and young people’s rights to appeal a decision of the local authority to the First-tier Tribunal (SEN and disability) in respect of SEN and provision

  • the local authority’s accessibility strategy (under paragraph 1 Schedule 10 to the Equality Act 2010)
  • institutions approved under Section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014

Paragraph 4.31 : The Local Offer should cover:

  • support available to all children and young people with SEN or disabilities from universal services such as schools and GPs

  • targeted services for children and young people with SEN or disabilities who require additional short-term support over and above that provided routinely as part of universal services

  • specialist services for children and young people with SEN or disabilities who require specialised, longer term support

Local offers should include all types of support available to young people with SEN or disabilities. This goes beyond schools to include targetted services and specialised long term support.