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The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced major reform of the system for identifying children and young people in England with special educational needs (SEN), assessing their needs and making provision for them.

This briefing provides an overview of the system introduced in 2014, and also includes, in an annex, a brief history of the movement towards reform that took place in the years preceding the 2014 Act.

The 2014 reforms began to be implemented in September 2014, in a phased process due to be completed by April 2018.

The Government has also reformed the funding system for SEN, alongside wider changes to the school funding system. A national funding formula has been introduced to allocate ‘high needs’ funding to local authorities – largely, this is for special educational provision.

From 2018-19, local authorities cannot transfer more than 0.5% of their wider ‘schools block’ funding into their high needs budget, although requests to transfer more may be made to the Secretary of State. A call for evidence on high needs funding ran from May to July 2019. The Government has not yet published its response.

Inspections by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission of local arrangements to support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities began in May 2016.

A separate Library briefing provides responses to Post-16 Special Educational Needs FAQs, CBP 8561.

This briefing applies to England only.

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