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Reforms to support for children and young people with SEN

Photo: Support for children and young people with SEND has changed since 2014

Since 1 September 2014 the Children and Families Act 2014 has had a big impact on the way children and young people aged 0–25 with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are supported in education.

This page gives a summary of the support for SEND introduced by the Act.

For more detailed information read our factsheet Special educational needs reform - England: Frequently Asked Questions.


  • Local authorities (LAs) must set out a ‘Local Offer’ of the support they expect to be available for children and young people with SEND in their area.
  • Schools and nurseries must publish a SEN information report on their website and update it each year. These reports should explain how the school or nursery has put their SEND policy into practice. For more information about SEN information reports, see paragraphs 6.79–6.83 of the new SEND Code of Practice.

SEN support

  • SEN support’ has replaced School Action and School Action Plus. SEN support means that schools, nurseries and other education settings must take steps to make sure the needs of your child are identified and met.
  • Schools and other educational settings no longer have to create an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for pupils with SEND, but they still have to record any extra support they’re giving and how effective it’s been.

Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans

  • EHC plans have replaced statements of SEN.
  • Support must be as specific and quantified on EHC plans, as it is on statements. This means the plan should state the type, hours and frequency of support and level of expertise of the people delivering it and should avoid using vague words such as ‘frequent’ and ‘regular’.
  • EHC plans extend to young people in further education colleges and apprenticeships, but not universities.
  • Parents and young people aged 16 and over have a right to request a Personal Budget to buy the support set out in an EHC plan.
  • A national pilot (April 2018-2020) now allows the SEN and Disability Tribunal to consider complaints around the health and social care aspects of an EHC plan, as well as education.
  • If your child still has a statement of SEN read our FAQs or contact our Freephone Helpline for advice.

Your child’s rights

  • Children and young people have a right to be educated in a mainstream school (unless their attendance would prevent the “efficient education” of other children there).
  • Your child’s rights under the Equality Act 2010 aren’t affected by the changes introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014.

Outcomes, involvement and working together

There’s more emphasis on outcomes and education providers making sure that children and young people have the information and skills they need to become independent and prepare for adulthood.

  • LAs must make sure that children/young people and their parents are involved in discussions and decisions about their individual support and about local support and services for children and young people with SEND.
  • Young people aged 16 and over have the right to make decisions for themselves. This includes requesting an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment and appealing to the Tribunal.
  • Education, health and social services have to work together to plan coordinated services.