What is the Local Offer?
The Children and Families Bill was enacted on 1st September 2014. This means that Local Authorities will be required to publish and keep up to date information about services from Education, Health and Social Care in their area which they expect to be available for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) aged 0 –25. This is the ‘Local Offer’.
The intention of the Local Offer is to improve choice, flexibility and transparency for families and to help them have more control over services by setting out the local provision for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or a Disability (SEND) and their families.
The Local Offer gives information to parents of children with, and to young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities between the ages of 0–25, in a single place. It will help them to understand what services they and their families can expect from a range of local agencies. It will also be an important resource for professionals in understanding the range of services and provision in the local area.
The Local Offer clarifies what provision is normally available from early year’s settings, schools (including academies), independent and free schools, colleges and other services including health and social care.
We know that the journey through education, health and social care is not always easy to understand, especially if you have a child or young person with SEN and/or a disability. The local offer is a guide to relevant advice and information to help find the right support you need to make the right decisions and to plan for the future.
What will change and why?
The definition of special educational needs (SEN) will remain, however, familiar terms and procedures such as ‘school action’, ‘school action plus’ and ‘statement’ will be replaced by the Local Offer, Education, Health and Care Plans and the option of personal budgets.
One of the key intentions of these changes is to improve parental accessibility, choice and control in a system which can be seen as being overly complex and time consuming. The small proportion of children with special educational needs who currently have a statement will have a single assessment and an Education, Health and Care Plan. Those whose needs are met through school action and school action plus will form a single broad group of children whose special educational needs will be met via services outlined in the Local Offer.
The EHC plans bring together a child’s education, health and social care needs into a single, legal document. The document sets out what extra support they will get to meet those needs. EHC plans are for children and young people aged up to 25 who have special educational needs and need more support than is available through their pre-school, school or college establishment. From 1 September 2014 EHC Plans started to replace statements of special educational needs. If the child has a statement, they will be transferred to an EHC plan.
There are several steps, including a formal assessment, before the council will decide if the child needs an EHC plan. Please see flowchart below.
A request for an EHC plan can be made by:
- A child’s pre-school, school or college
- A doctor
- A health visitor
- Parent carer
- Young person
The Local Offer provides information and advice to parents about what arrangements, services and provision they might expect to be normally available to meet SEN in children and young people whose needs do not require an Education, Health and Care Plan.
For more information on health services in your area, please see below:
Lancashire County Council Local Offer:
Blackburn with Darwen Local Offer:
Blackburn with Darwen’s Local Offer, supports children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities aged 0–25 and their families. Visit the Local Offer for information on education, health and social care services and recreational activities.
SEN Resources from MENCAP:
SEND Resources Council for Disabled Children: