Children with disabilities often have special educational needs (SEND) and require specific care within the school environment to support them. SEND can affect a child or young person’s ability to learn as well as their behaviour or ability to socialise –they might struggle to make friends; have problems reading and writing, have dyslexia, can’t understand things and have poor concentration, or have ADHD.
Many children with Special Education Needs (SEN) may also have a physical or mental impairment following injury, which has substantial long-term adverse effects on a person’s ability to carry out everyday activities. Local authorities (LA) are responsible for identifying and meeting a child’s special educational needs and disabilities. This service should be impartial, confidential and easily accessible for parent and carers, either face to face, by phone or email.
Support a child can receive
If a child is eligible for SEND support, which is given in school, such as speech therapy, they should also have an education, health and care (EHC) plan – a plan of care for children and young people aged up to 25 who have more complex needs. EHC plans identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs. This SEND support also forms part of the Multidisciplinary team (MDT) working with the family of the child or young person.
Among the various departments working together, the Local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will be involved in the joint arrangements for the provision of care. Some information will also be published in the Local Offer section of the LA website, information about support services that a local authority think will be available in their local area.
The health and education systems must work closely. All maintained nursery, mainstream, free schools and academies will have a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo). This postholder will be a point of liaison for health professionals. Although a child or young person’s educational attainment can be affected by school absences due to hospitalisation, frequent appointments or lack of support to promote attendance, schools and colleges will commission appropriate health and social care, to ensure that seamless support is available to these individuals.
Meanwhile, the CCGs contract services jointly for children and young people (up to age 25) with SEND, as well as those with EHC plans. They work with the local authorities to contribute to the Local Offer of services and ensure that health providers inform parents and the appropriate LA, where they think a child has, or probably has, SEN and/or a disability.
Essentially, mechanisms must be in place to ensure practitioners and clinicians will support the integrated EHC needs assessment process, and agree on personal budgets, where provided for those with EHC plans.
The Local Offer has links to the CCG website and features clear descriptions of the health services available, who provides them and how to access these services. The CCG works jointly with the LA to develop a Local Offer, co-produced with children with SEND and their parents, covering support available, both with and without EHC plans. These joint arrangements require a means to ensure health information is comprehensive and up-to-date, and for keeping it under review.