The Local Authority’s duty to identify children and young people in Stoke on Trent who have or may have Special Educational Needs
Section 22 of the Children and Families Act 2014 places a duty on local authorities to identify all the disabled children and young people in their area and all the children and young people in their area who have or may have special educational needs.
Because this is a pro-active duty, Stoke on Trent Local Authority has in place systems for gathering this information from schools and other settings and from other services.
How do we identify young children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities?
Section 23 of the Children and Families Act 2014 places a duty on health bodies. If clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts believe that a child under compulsory school age is disabled (or has a special educational need, or may have a special
educational need), they are required to tell the child’s parents and give the parents the chance to discuss it. They are also required to tell the child’s local authority. This link between health and education is managed in Stoke on Trent through the Early Years Forum.
What is the Early Years Forum?
This a monthly meeting of professionals who work for agencies that provide services for young children aged 0 -5 with additional needs. Representatives at the Early Years Forum include
- Community Paediatricians;
- Health Visitors;
- Portage (the Home Teaching Service);
- Hazel Trees Education Nursery;
- Educational Psychology Service;
- Nurseries and playgroups;
- Occupational Therapists;
- Speech and Language Therapists;
- Special Educational Needs Monitoring and Assessment Service (SENMAS)
The Early Years Forum meets to consider the needs of young children who may have special educational needs and/or disabilities. It brings together all agencies that support the child now or may need to support them in the future. It helps all agencies work closely together to ensure each child has the best possible start to learning.
Parents and carers cannot refer their child to the Early Years Forum but they must agree that their child can be referred and that information can be shared between professionals. They can share their views and preferences by using the Parent/ Carer comments form.
A Lead Person will be allocated to the child: this is usually someone already known to the family. The Early Years Forum will consider the child's needs and services that are currently being accessed and will make recommendations to support the child further. Recommendations will be shared with parents/carers.
If it is agreed that a child will require additional support on entry into school, the Forum will work with the Special Educational Needs Monitoring and Assessment Service (SENMAS) to initiate an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment which may lead to an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan.
How do we identify school-aged children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities?
Stoke-on-Trent Local Authority supports Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs). There is a SENCO in every school and part of the role of the SENCO is to identify children who have – or may have – special educational needs. SENCOs are supported by specialist Advisors from the Inclusion Service and by Educational Psychologists to identify and to work with children and young people with special educational needs. The Local Authority co-ordinates SENCO meetings and provides training opportunities and an annual conference for SENCOs. Stoke-on-Trent Local Authority has also produced a matrix and guidance for schools and SENCOs to identify the severity of the level of need and the appropriate level of response.
Where there is a sufficient level of concern, a request will be made for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment.
Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment
Following a request for an EHC Needs Assessment, the Local Authority will determine whether an EHC Needs Assessment is necessary. In considering whether an EHC Needs Assessment is necessary, Stoke on Trent Local Authority will have regard to the views, wishes and feelings of the child’s parent or the young person.
To inform its decision, the Local Authority takes into account a wide range of evidence and pays particular attention to:
- evidence of the child or young person’s academic attainment (or developmental milestones and rate of progress);
- information about the nature, extent and context of the child or young person’s special educational needs;
- evidence of the action already being taken by the early years provider, school or post-16 institution to meet the child or young person’s special educational needs;
- evidence that where progress has been made, it has only been as the result of significant additional intervention and support over and above that which is usually provided;
- evidence of the child or young person’s physical, emotional and social development and health needs.