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This Standard Note briefly outlines the current special educational needs (SEN) system in England, highlights the main proposals in the Government’s green paper on special educational needs and disability, and refers to the Government’s plans to implement changes, including the introduction of draft legislation later this summer. The Note provides some information on the pathfinder programme to test key elements of the green paper’s proposals including the pilot arrangements to try the use of direct payments for educational provision for children and young people with SEN or disability.

The green paper, Support and aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability, proposed:

• a new approach to identifying SEN through a single early years setting-based category and school-based category of SEN;

• a new single assessment process and Education, Health and Care Plan by 2014;

• local authorities and other services to set out a local offer of all services available;

• the option of a personal budget by 2014 for all families with children with a statement of SEN or a new Education, Health and Care Plan;

• strengthening parental choice of school, for either a mainstream or special school; and,

• changing the assessment process to make it more independent.

On 9 May 2012, the Queen’s Speech announced the Government’s intention to introduce a Children and Families Bill that would include SEN reforms. On 15 May 2012, the DFE published its detailed response to the formal public consultation on the green paper and also set out the next steps. It confirmed that the Government would introduce the Children and Families Bill in this session of Parliament and would aim to publish a draft Bill on the SEN measures this summer for consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny.

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