Special educational needs (SEN) reforms in England

Significant changes to how support for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities is provided in England started to come into force on 1 September 2014.

Reforms are also taking place in Wales and Northern Ireland to a different timescale. Please contact our Helpline team if you would like more information about proposals in these nations. 

All children and young people are entitled to an education that enables them to make progress so that they: achieve their best; become confident individuals living fulfilling lives, and make a successful transition into adulthood

SEN Code of Practice

Ofsted inspections of support for children and young people with SEND

From May 2016, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission will be inspecting support for children and young people aged 0–25 with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in England.

We've written a factsheet with more information about these inspections and how you can get involved.

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Summary guide to SEN reforms

Our booklet provides a summary of the key changes. 

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) in England 326kb

An introduction to the new legislation in England for parents of deaf children and young people.

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FAQ about the SEN reforms

Image of question marks (credit: NDCS)

Our Frequently Asked Questions resource aims to answer the most common questions we receive about the reforms and what they mean for you and your child.

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Statements and Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans

SEN statements will be phased out and replaced by Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. Our website has more information about statements, EHC plans, the statutory assessment process and what you can do if you're not happy.

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Local Offer

The law now means that all local authorities in England must produce a ‘Local Offer’. This is intended to bring together in one place information about education, health and social care services for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Your local authority must ensure you can feedback on their Local Offer. If there is information missing or if the ‘offer’ isn’t good enough, they must consider your feedback and think about how to improve their offer. 

Download our Local Offer factsheet to find out more:

Find the Local Offer for where you live using our easy-to-use table:

A report by the I-Sign project considers how you can use the Local Offer to find information on sign language support. 

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Personal Budgets

Families of children with EHC plans will now have the option of requesting a Personal Budget

Download our factsheet for more information > 

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Equality Act and education

One thing that isn't changing are the rights that deaf children have under the Equality Act 2010. Our factsheet explains how you can use these rights to make sure that your child gets the support they need. 

Download our Equality Act factsheet for more information >

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Special educational needs (SEN) support

Image of factsheet icon (credit: NDCS)

Where deaf children in England need extra support in a nursery, school, college or another education setting because of their deafness, they may be described as needing  ‘Special educational needs (SEN) support’. If this applies to your child, the education setting must take a number of steps to make sure the needs of your child are being met. Our factsheet explains what this means in practice and the rights that it gives your child.

Download our factsheet now >

Please note, the term ‘SEN support’ replaces what used to be known as ‘School Action’ and ‘School Action Plus’ in schools in England. 

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Frequently asked questions in BSL

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Information for deaf young people

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Our website, the Buzz, for deaf young people provides a summary of the changes for deaf young people. 

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SEN reform in Wales and Northern Ireland and support in Scotland

Changes will also be taking place in Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Resources for professionals

We've produced a range of resources for professionals to make sure that deaf children and young people benefit from these changes. Please share our resources with any professionals working with your child. 

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Primary school classroom

"I think the EHC plans have the potential to provide a better assessment of a child with significant sensory impairment or other needs, but that it will take longer for professionals to make that assessment and support parents to get the best from this new system" Parent of a deaf child

Three teens with arms around each other