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The Queen’s Speech on 9 May 2012 announced that the Government would propose measures to improve provision for disabled children and children with special educational needs (SEN). The Department for Education’s press notice on the measures said that they would be contained in the planned Children and Families Bill, and that they were the biggest reforms to SEN provision in 30 years.

The announcement followed a period of consultation on the green paper, Support and aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability, published in March 2011. The green paper’s main proposals included a new single assessment process for those with special needs and a combined Education, Health and Care Plan from birth to 25, a published ‘local offer’ of available services, and, a right for parents to be given, if they wish, a personal budget to meet their child’s needs. A pathfinder programme is currently testing the key elements of the green paper’s proposals.

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 to implement the measures set out in the green paper. It confirmed that the Government would include the measures in the Children and Families Bill that would be introduced in this session of Parliament, and would aim to publish a draft Bill on the SEN measures for consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny.

The draft provisions relating to SEN were published on 3 September 2012 in Draft legislation on Reform of provision for children and young people with Special Educational Needs (Cm 8438). The draft legislation extends to England and Wales although most of the provisions apply to England only. Education is a devolved matter, and the Welsh Assembly is currently consulting on proposed changes to the SEN system in Wales.

This Standard Note briefly outlines the main provisions in the draft legislation relating to England, and provides background information. Additional information on the green paper was provided in Library Standard Note SN/SP/5917.

Update: The Education Committee has published its pre-legislative scrutiny report.

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