Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
The Children and Families Act (2014) places a duty on Local Authorities to identify all children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in their area. The Act requires health, education and social care to jointly commission services for this group, producing information on the ‘Local Offer’ that sets out the provision that the Local Authority and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) expects to be available for children with SEND.
The term ‘Special Educational Needs’ (SEN) is an education term which specifically refers to children and young people who meet the definition given by the SEND Code of Practice :-
- A child or young person aged 0-25 has special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for them
- A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she: has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions
'Disability' can be defined in different ways, in particular in planning, health and social care settings. The statutory definition of disability in the UK comes from the Equality Act (2010). The World Health Organisation also provides a definition of three elements of disability: impairment, activity limitation and participation restriction.
The Equality Act (2010): ‘Disability is a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities’
The World Health Organisation (2013): Disability is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions:-
- An impairment is a problem in body function or structure;
- An activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action;
- A participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations
Somerset SEND Needs Assessment 2019/20
To inform commissioning of local services, the SEND Improvement Board in Somerset initiated a series of SEND Needs Assessments. The Improvement Board includes members of Somerset County Council, Clinical Commissioning Groups, health providers, education providers, and representatives from parent-carer groups. The latest report can be downloaded below.
Headline findings from the 2019/20 Needs Assessment are as follows. Underlying data and analysis is available within the full report.
- Educational outcomes for Children and Young People with SEND in Somerset are below the national average attainment at Key Stages 2 – 4. Leaders need to effectively challenge Schools and each other to improve and close the gaps identified.
- There is an inability to differentiate data on health outcomes for children and young people with SEND. This continues to be an area of concern and is a high risk in ensuring the Local Area is able to effectively plan for future health services within Somerset.
- Services in Somerset for Children and Young People with SEND are inequitable with demand often exceeding service availability. It is essential that families are able to access the right service, in the right place and at the right time. A key gap that has been identified is in relation to special school placement sufficiency, and whilst there is a long term plan to address this with the expansion of specialist provision and new builds as part of the Capital Build Programme this does not address the real time risk with it being reported that all special schools placements for the forthcoming academic year (September 2020) being allocated.
- SEND Support throughout the county is inconsistent and there is a lack of parental confidence in local provisions being able to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND. A range of support tools are being developed to increase providers confidence in meeting the needs of this cohort, examples of these are the SEND Effective Support Document which outlines the Local Area’s approach to Early Help, SEND and the Graduated Approach. Furthermore, a Speech and Language Strategy has been co-produced and this will assist in closing the gap identified in this needs analysis but further work will be required to fully understand the gaps identified in terms of therapy provision.
- A single point of access for children, young people and families in Somerset is required. This would include a jargon free joint complaints procedure for Education, Health and Childrens Social Care as well as the operation of the ‘Local Area Front Door’. This should be clearly communicated on the Local Offer and developed with key stakeholders.
- The Local Area must improve its response to requests for Statutory Assessments with partners providing timely high quality advice. Similarly, the Local Authority’s responses to Annual Reviews must improve this will ensure that our children and young people receive the right support, in the right place at the right time.
- The identification of children and young people with SEND is not in line with the National average. There is an over identification of children and young people with Social, Emotional, and Mental Health (SEMH) with 21.8% having SEMH identified as primary need compared to the National average of 16.6 %. This would suggest that children and young people in Somerset are having their needs inappropriately identified.
- In contrast to the above, the identification of children and young people with SEND whose primary need is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is below the national average, with 6.9% of children and young people in Somerset identified with ASD as primary need, compared to the National average of 10.3%. This suggests that the current arrangements for identification, assessment and diagnosis are currently not fit for purpose.
- Detailed figures on SEN by Local Authority are available on the Department for Education website
- For maps showing rates of SEND by Ward, please see our Dashboard.
- For other information relating to children and young people, including the Somerset Children and Young People Plan, please go here.