We recently ran a quick survey to find out what people actually knew about the SEN reforms and also, how involved they had been in the changes being proposed.
One of the results that really jumped out at us was the lack of awareness of what the Local Offer was. So, as promised, we are going to be going through the results and trying to give answers where we can.
Every Local Authority must publish, in one place, information about provision they expect to be available in their area for children and young people from 0-25 who have SEN.
The Local Offer is included in the Children and Families Bill, currently going through parliament. This will become law in September 2014. You can find full details in section 4 of the new draft SEN Code of Practice
What is the purpose of the Local Offer?
- To provide clear, easy to understand, accurate information on services and how they can be accessed so parent/carers and young people can see clearly what is available.
- To show what is available at various stages of the SEN journey.
- To make the local provision more responsive to local needs by directly involving children and young people with SEN, their parents and carers and service providers in its development and review.
What should the Local Offer include?
- Education provision
- Health provision
- Social Care provision
- Arrangements to identify and assess children and young people with SEN
- Eligibility criteria for services and how decisions are made
- What support is available to help children and young people move between school phases
- Services available to support young people preparing for adulthood
- Sources of support, advice and information
- Arrangements for disagreement resolution, complaints, mediation and appeals to the SEN Tribunal
- Also arrangements on how the Local Offer will be reviewed and feedback on the Local Offer from families
Is it similar to a Yellow Pages for SEN?
No. The Local Offer will not be a resource directory., these are only useful if you know what you are looking for and often they are out of date the day they are printed - services stop, charities close, helplines change their number, etc.
The Local Offer will be a website that will be easy to search (perhaps showing relevant services offered as various stops on a journey). The website should also allow you to print off information - more than 20% of parents of a child with SEN do not have internet access or only have a limited access on their mobile, so it is essential that the Local Offer website will allow others to print off the relevant information for parents.
Does this sound like a good idea?
In theory, this sounds great but in practice?
We'd love to know what you think would be useful for the Local Offer. What information would you have liked to be readily available or did you find out about a much needed service but only when it was too late to access it?