UK's Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Reforms

On 1 September 2014 a major change to the special educational needs (SEN) system in England came into effect. The Children and Families Act 2014 has been passed by the UK Parliament and this sets out a new framework for SEN provision along with a new SEN and Disability Code of Practice.  

The new legislation expands the age-range of the SEN system from 2–19 to 0–25 and so covers further education and training as well as schools. It gives young people aged 16–25 as well as parents of children with SEN new rights, such as:

  • to ask for assessments of their needs; 
  • to request the school or college where they want to be educated, or
  • to appeal to a Tribunal about their provision.  

A major change is the creation of new and more coordinated Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessments for the 0–25 age group. The more 'person-centred' EHC plans will replace SEN statements in schools and learning difficulty assessments in further education.  The National Health Service will have to make the health provision set out in the EHC plans, whereas local authorities will be responsible for the special educational provision.

There are also new duties on local authorities and health to jointly commission services for disabled children and young people and those with SEN. Local authorities will publish a ‘Local Offer’ of services available to these children and young people, and will offer personal budgets to buy services for those with EHC plans. 

The new Code of Practice can be found at: and a simpler guide at

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