Special Educational Needs

Overview

If you are an Army family with a child who has additional needs, then there is lots of advice and information available to you – some of which we have highlighted on this page.

For those of you who live in England, the Department for Education has complied a series of flow charts that can help you through the assessment process right from the very beginning. You can find these on the Special Needs Jungle website.

If you live elsewhere, a good place to start is relevant devolved government websites. The MOD Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) will also help you wherever you live in the world.

AFF is monitoring how you are supported through this and we would like to hear your feedback and experiences.

Please contact the Education and Childcare Specialist at ec@aff.org.uk or the Health and Additional Needs Specialist at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

Contents

01   Registering your child’s SEN/SEND

If your child has SEN or SEND (Special Education Need and Disability) the MOD advises that you register your child with Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS).

If your child’s SEN or SEND is moderate or more complex, it is mandatory for your soldier to register this need with Army Personnel Centre (APC) through the Career management Notification Pro-forma in AGAI 108.

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02   Education, Health and Care Plans

An EHCP is a single integrated care plan which should ensure that all local agencies for education, health and social care work together to meet your needs and stop you as parents having to undergo repeated assessments with different agencies.

It should also improve the transition process for young people when they leave school.

An EHCP is a legal document which sets out a description of your child’s needs and what support needs to be provided through education, health and social care to meet those needs.

EHC Needs Assessment 

Local Authorities (LAs) have a duty to assess a child or young person’s education, health and care needs if it is thought they may have SEN and possibly require special educational support. This assessment is known as an EHC Needs Assessment, but it is also sometimes called a “statutory assessment.”

The LA is required to carry out this assessment in accordance with the Children and Families Act 2014.

For further information on how to start the assessment process, the Special Needs Jungle has a flowchart (part 1) which explains the SEN support available to parents, children and young people.

How long does the assessment process take?

Once the LA has agreed to an EHCP for your child or young person they will prepare a draft plan.

This will be sent to you, and once the draft plan has been received, you have 15 days to check that all the needs and provision required has been included in the EHCP; the whole process must be completed within 20 weeks.

If the LA decides not to provide your child or young person with an EHCP, they must inform you within 16 weeks from the original request for an EHCP. You have the right to appeal this decision through the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.

There is further useful information on the assessment process in the Special Needs Jungle flowchart (part 3)

Who can make a referral?

Parents, a young person over 16 (but under 25) and a person acting on behalf of a school or institution for post -16 education (this should ideally be with the agreement of the parent or young person), all have a specific right to ask the LA to conduct an EHC needs assessment.

Anyone else who may think an EHC needs assessment is necessary can bring a child or young person to the LA’s attention. This could include foster carers, health and social care professionals, early year’s practitioners, youth offending teams or probation services, school or college staff or a family friend.

Bringing a child or young person to the attention of the LA is done on an individual basis and should be done with the knowledge, and where possible, the agreement of the child’s parents or the young person.

The Special Needs Jungle flowchart (Part 2) explains how you can request an EHC assessment.

There is also more information available in the SEND Guide for Parents and Carers which has an easy read version and an easy read version for children and young people.

These guides should be read alongside the SEND Code of Practice 0 to 25.

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03   The Local Offer

The Children and Families Act 2014 gave Local Authorities (LAs) a statutory duty to produce a ‘Local Offer’ for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and/or a disability (SEND) from 0 to 25.

All LAs have published a ‘Local Offer’ of support, so parents and young people know exactly what is available in their location; this information can be found on the LA website, either on the schools/SEN pages or on the education, training and skills pages.

We would very much like to hear about any issues or concerns you are having with the Local Offer, even if it is just regarding trying to access the information from your LA website. Please contact Karen Ross at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

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04   Personal budgets

All Army families who are awarded an approved EHCP will have a legal right to request a personal budget.

When you receive your draft EHCP form the LA you will be invited to apply for your child or young person’s personal budget.

Parents will have the option to directly buy in any support they require, as identified in the ECHP. You can also choose whether to take control of the personal budget, or agencies.

Parents or young people should state how they would like the personal budget allocated in the draft EHCP.

There are three ways you can use your personal budget. You can have:

  1. direct payments made into your account, so that you buy and manage services yourself
  2. an arrangement with your LA or school where they hold the money for you but you still decide how to spend it (sometimes called ‘notional arrangements’)
  3. third-party arrangements – you choose someone else to manage the money for you

You can also have a combination of all three options.

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05   Joint commissioning

LAs and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are expected to put arrangements in place to ensure that services for disabled children and young people, and children and young people with SEN, are planned for and commissioned jointly.

This should ensure that agencies work together to agree the best package of support and will hopefully avoid disputes over who should fund services.

If you’re not happy with the health support or provision being provided for your child or young person, you can raise a complaint with the CCG or NHS England and tell AFF at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

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06   Mediation, tribunal and children’s right to appeal

If you’re not happy with the LAs decision to not assess your child for an EHCP, or to provide an EHCP after an EHC assessment, or the SEN part of the EHCP, you can appeal the decision with the SEND Tribunal.

However, before you appeal you must first contact a mediation advisor.

The Special Needs Jungle flowchart (part 4) explains the mediation and tribunal process. There is also more information on the GOV.UK website and in the SEND Code of Practice 0-25.

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07   What happens when you move?

Moving frequently as part of our Army lifestyle can be challenging, particularly if you have a child or young person with SEN or SEND.

Often families have the child’s statement or EHCP agreed in one LA then move to another LA with a different Local offer for education, health and social care provision; you may feel that you are having to start the process all over again or are not getting the same provision.

If this is the case, contact ec@aff.org.uk or additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

The good news is that the SEND Code of Practice 0- 25 Chapter 10 pp.219 – now recognises the unique needs of Service children with SEN and SEND and the possible impact that Service-induced mobility and deployment may have on their specific needs.

This Code of Practice attempts to meet the aspirations of the Armed Forces Covenant, which has a commitment to prevent or reduce some of the potential disadvantages faced by Service families.

So, all those with statutory responsibilities towards Service children with SEN should ensure that the impact of their policies, administrative processes and patterns of provision do not disadvantage such children because of their Service-related lifestyle.

This means that those providing education should ensure that there is a process to enable all relevant records for Service children with SEN to be sent and received by the schools on moving, in the UK and overseas, to enable effective planning. This should ideally be done before your child attends the new school.

PIP

To help with this transfer of information, the MOD has developed the Pupil Information Profile (PIP) for Service children, which includes details of a child’s SEN.

It is available for use by schools across the UK and overseas, and is available from the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS).

CEAS

When LAs carry out an assessment of a Service child’s EHC needs, or when making an EHC plan, they must seek advice from CEAS.

When Service children move from one LA to another the transfer of the EHC plan from the ‘old’ LA to the ‘new’ LA should happen within 15 days from when they first become aware of the move.

MASO & SCAN

If you’re moving overseas and you have a child with SEN or SEND, you will need to know about the MASO and SCAN.

The MOD Assessment of Supportability Overseas (MASO) is the name for the enquiry process to assess whether all the support needed is available in the overseas location.

The Service Children’s Assessment of Need (SCAN) is the name for the assessment that will take place instead of an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in the UK if needed.

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08   Support and Information

MOD

Charitable and other support

For other useful links and information relating to SEN and SEND, click here.

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