SEND Code of Practice

Children and Families Act

The Children and Families Act and the new SEND Code of Practice came into effect on 1 September 2014. 

  • It covers children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) from birth – 25 years of age if remaining in education. 
  • Brings together Health, Education and Care into one plan
  • Statements have been being replaced by a Health, Education and Care plan (EHC) for new applicants from September 2014. Existing statements will remain in place and eventually transition to an EHC plan
  • Replaces 'School Action', 'School Action Plus' and 'Individual education Plans (IEPs) with 'SEN Support' - this is the level of support that the vast majority of dyslexic pupils will receive.
  • Covers England only (Wales have their own)

Basic Principles

  • All children have a right to an education that enables them to make progress.
  • All children with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities should have their needs met.
  • Local authority should involve parents and children in their decisions about SEN support
  • Parents should have a real say in decisions that affect their children and know how to challenge decisions they disagree with.
  • Parents should be able to find out what services are available for children with SEND through the Local Authority's 'Local Offer' and the school's 'SEN Information Report'.

Definition of Special Educational Needs (SEN)

  • Learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for a child or young person to learn than most children and young people of the same age. 

SEN Support

  • SEN support replaces school action/school action plus (in schools) and early years action/early years action plus (in early years settings).
  • It is part of the ‘graduated approach’
  • A child who has SEN should be able to access help through their school/college
  • Any support a child gets should meet their needs.
  • Those with more complex needs might instead need an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan

SEN Information Report

Every school must publish an SEN Information Report on their website, and keep the report up to date. The report needs to include things like:

  • SEN support the school provides.
  • Inform parents as to the schools intervention and assessment processes
  • Arrangements for consulting parents and involving them in their child’s education.

The Local Offer

  • Every local authority must identify education, health and social care services in their local area provided for children, young people and families who have SEN or disabilities and include them in an information directory called the Local Offer.
  • The Local Offer also needs to include information about specialist services outside the local area that local people are likely to use.
  • The Local Offer needs to be kept up to date, and to seek feedback as part of that process

Getting an EHC needs assessment and plan

  • If a child’s school is unable to meet their needs, or they require a more intensive level of Specialist support that cannot be met from the resources in the school, the parents or the school can approach the LEA for a statutory assessment for an EHC plan. This assessment could lead to a child getting an EHC plan.
  • An EHC plan brings a child’s education, health and social care needs into a single, legal document. A child must have special educational needs to be eligible for a plan.

The Statutory Assessment

  • The assessment includes talking to parents and the child and finding out what support they think the child needs.  Parents can get support from Independent Supporters through the EHC Plan assessment process. The assessment also seeks information and views from people who work with the child, including class teachers, doctors and educational psychologists.

What to do if the request is rejected

  • Each local authority must publish information on when and how parents can challenge their decisions.

Further Information

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities: A Guide for Parents and Carers can be downloaded from:

Useful Contacts

Advisory Centre for Education (ACE)

Tel: 0208 888 3377


IPSEA   Independent Parental Special Education Advice

Advice Line 0800 018 4016


National Helpline: 0208 538 3731

SEN Tribunal Service (Advice on Tribunal system, appeals and discrimination)

Tel: 01325 392760