Support for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in your area
All local authorities in England must produce a ‘Local Offer’ giving details of local services (including education, health and social care) that they expect to be available to children and young people aged 0–25 with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Here are some examples of Local Offers:
There are lots of things about support for children with SEND that local authorities have to (by law) include in their Local Offer. However, local authorities may vary on how much detailed information they provide about services for deaf children.
A good Local Offer will include information on:
- Peripatetic Teachers of the Deaf (specialist Teachers of the Deaf who work in homes and schools in the local area)
- Local resource bases (specialist provision for deaf students, usually attached to a mainstream school)
- Speech and language therapy
- Schools for deaf children, including details of communication approach
- Nurseries with SEND support
- Specialist childminders
- Audiology services
- Mental health services
- Short break arrangements
- Specialist technology for deaf children (such as radio aids)
- Whether schools or other education settings have been adapted so that the listening environments are better than normal
- Curriculum adaptations (for teaching of phonics, literacy, etc.)
- School transport (for example, if your child has to travel further than normal to a school that meets their needs)
- Specialist apprenticeship schemes
- Deaf youth groups
- National Deaf Children’s Society local group
- Disabled Student Allowance (for university students).
Other information that must be included:
- arrangements for identifying and assessing SEN
- how to request an Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment
- your rights to appeal a decision made by the local authority linked to SEND
- any eligibility criteria for any provision set out in the Local Offer.
Chapter four of the SEND Code of Practice gives more detail about what should be included in a Local Offer.
The law also says Local Offers must be accessible to parents and young people and those with different types of SEND. This should include:
- making information available in other languages, including British Sign Language (BSL)
- making sure they’re easy to understand
- making the information available off-line (not just on a website).
Schools have to publish their own information; this is sometimes called a School Offer.
School Offers must be linked to from Local Offers and should include:
- a SEN information report – this is detailed information about the school’s arrangements for identifying, assessing and making provision for pupils with SEN
- the school’s arrangements for the admission of disabled children
- the steps taken to make sure disabled children aren’t treated less favourably compared to other non-disabled children
- the school’s accessibility plan (a document explaining how the school plans to increase access for students with SEND).
Your Local Offer will be on, or linked to from, the website of your local authority. If you type the name of your local authority and the words ‘Local Offer’ into a search engine it will usually find the website.
If you’re not sure who your local authority is, you can find out here: www.gov.uk/find-local-council.
A good Local Offer will also give you information about services that you can access outside of your local authority. This might include, for example, information about a special school for deaf children that’s nearby.
The Department for Education has said that local authorities must involve children and young people (with different types of SEND) and their families in developing and improving their Local Offer.
There are lots of ways you can help improve your Local Offer.
Send your comments to your local authority
Local authorities must allow people to send in comments or complaints about their Local Offers. Most local authorities allow people to do this online, but you can also contact them and ask how you can share your feedback.
At least once a year, local authorities have to publish all the comments they received about their Local Offer. They also have to respond to the comments and explain what they’re going to do about them.
If a local authority receives several similar comments on the same issue they may decide to respond to them collectively. All comments must be published anonymously.
Get involved in local inspections
Since May 2016, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have been inspecting local area support for children and young people aged 0–25 with SEND. They’ll be looking at how well children’s needs are being identified and met. After each inspection, Ofsted and the CQC will publish a short report with their findings.
During each inspection, Ofsted and CQC will ask for feedback from local parents.
For more information about these inspections and how you can get involved, read Help Improve Support for Deaf Children in Your Area.
Join a parent/carer forum
Most local authorities will have a group that contributes to local consultations on services for children with SEND. The National Network of Parent Carer Forums will have details of your local group.
Discuss it at your local Children’s Hearing Services Working Group (CHSWG)
CHSWGs are forums where parents and professionals discuss local services for deaf children together.
Discuss it with your local deaf children's society
Local deaf children's societies often try to influence local services. Contact your local group and find out if they’re working to improve the Local Offer.
Encourage your child to get involved
Your child may have the opportunity to join a young person’s forum or consultation – your Local Offer should give details.
I’m still not happy with my Local Offer. What can I do?
If you’re unhappy with the local authority’s response to your feedback on the Local Offer or if the Local Offer in your area is poor, you can take the following action.
- Make a formal complaint to the local authority – details about how to do this will be on their website.
- Write to your local councillor (find out who your local councillor is at www.writetothem.org.uk).
- Write to your MP and ask them to raise the issue with the local authority (find out who your MP is at www.writetothem.org.uk).
- Ask the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to consider if the local authority has followed the law. You can usually only do this after you’ve complained to the local authority.
- As a last resort, if the local authority has failed to meet their legal requirements, then you could consider initiating legal action against them. Contact our Freephone Helpline for further information and advice on this option.