Special needs reform welcomed

5th March 1999 at 00:00
Parents are pleased with alterations to the code of practice that will expand the role of schools. Karen Thornton reports.

Schools and headteachers would have the same rights as parents to request assessments for pupils with special educational needs under proposed changes to the SEN code of practice.

And local authorities would have to review provision for special needs pupils in good time for them to transfer smoothly between primary and secondary schools.

The proposals, in a consultation document from the Department for Education and Employment, were welcomed by parent support and SEN groups.

However, a first revised draft of the code is not expected until the autumn, and is unlikely to come into effect before January 2001.

The consultation paper says some authorities are failing to update SEN statements in time for pupils' transfers to new schools. Statements are the formal contracts describing children's needs and the help they require.

It is proposing a legal duty on authorities to complete statement reviews by December 31 in the year before a child transfers - allowing time to issue revised statements and for parental appeals.

It also suggests that schools and other agencies should have the same right to request SEN assessments and appeal against refusals to make assessments as parents.

The consultation document gives more details on proposals for change outlined in last November's SEN action programme, and includes promises of new guidance on the time needed by SEN co-ordinators to do their jobs, individual education plans, and the renaming of the code's stages.

Areas not mentioned in the action programme include plans for more guidance on how secondary schools can meet their statutory SEN responsibilities, and more guidance on identifying and assessing SEN pupils whose first language is not English; * A new course offering a route to a master's degree for special needs teachers has been launched by a Bristol university and a teacher supply agency.

The new qualification, developed by the University of the West of England and Select Education, an agency based in Hertfordshire, aims to meet the requirements of the Teacher Training Agency's national standards for SEN specialist teachers.

Teachers do not have to be supply teachers or live in or near Bristol to take up the qualification, which will be offered at other centres. But they must have previous or current SEN experience.

Comments on the proposed revisions to the SENcode should be sent to Andrew Taylor, DFEE, Special Educational Needs Division, 2T6, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BT, telephone 0171 925 6363, fax 0171 925 6986, e-mail code.review@dfee.gov.uk

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a TES/ TESS subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


Get Tes online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to Tes online and the Tes app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off Tes Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the Tes online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order today