SEND Code of Practice 2014

Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2014



Following a lengthy period of consultation and discussion involving a wide range of agencies and contributors, the new Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2014 was enacted by Parliament in August 2014 and came into force on 1 September 2014.

The new SEND Code of Practice can be viewed in full at

The new SEND Code of Practice states that “All children and young people are entitled to an education that enables them to make progress so that they:

  • achieve their best;
  • become confident individuals living fulfilling lives; and
  • make a successful transition into adulthood, whether into employment, further or higher education or training.”

What’s changing?

Some of the key changes include:

  • Replacing the Statement of SEN with an Education, Health and Care Plan [often referred to as an ‘EHCP’];
  • Allowing young people with SEN up to the age of 19 to have an Education, Health and Care Plan and, in some cases, up to age 25;
  • Giving some parents and young people the option of a Personal Budget to purchase some elements of the SEN support needed;
  • Requiring local authorities to set out a ‘Local Offer’ of what support they expect to be available for children and young people with SEN and disabilities;
  • Changing the SEN Code of Practice, which sets out the government’s expectations on what local authorities, schools and other bodies should be doing to support children with SEN and disabilities;
  • New and explicit requirements around the involvement of children, young people and parents in decisions about provision for children and young people with SEN and disabilities;
  • Requiring education, social care and health services to work together to support children with SEN and disabilities through the ‘joint commissioning’ of services.

The changes start to come into force from the 1st September 2014.

Statements will be replaced by Education, Health and Care Plans over the next 3½ years. For some families, the ‘old’ SEN framework will be in place whilst for other families, the ‘new’ SEN framework will be in force. This means that there is a risk of confusion and uncertainty in some areas. However, whichever framework applies, it is important to remember that your rights under both frameworks are broadly similar. The Government has been clear that the changeover to the new system should not lead to a reduction in support.

The new Code of Practice at a glance – where to find the key paragraphs:

SEN Support

  • School Action and School Action Plus are now merged. Schools should follow an “assess, plan, do, review” cycle, involving external professionals where necessary. [Paras. 5.38, 6.44]

Individual Education Plans [IEPs]

  • No requirement to produce an IEP, but “Schools should particularly record details of additional or different provision….A local authority that is considering or carrying out a statutory assessment of the pupil’s needs, will wish to review such information.” [Para. 6.73]

Requesting a statutory assessment

  • An assessment can be requested by parents [or their advocate], young person aged 16+ [or their advocate], early years practitioners, schools, post-16 institutions and many others, including foster carers and health and social care professionals. [Para. 9.8]
  • Evidence will need to be gathered about the nature and extent of the child’s SEN, evidence of the action already being taken to meet the SEN, evidence that where progress has been made, it is only as a result of much additional effort and support at a sustained level over and above that which is usually provided. [Para. 9.14]
  • Local authorities must inform parents of their decision [whether or not to assess] within six weeks of the request and must give reasons for the decision. [Para. 9.17]

Education Health and Care Plans

  • Local authorities must give parents and young people 15 days to consider draft and give views and ask for a particular school/other institution to be named. [Para. 9.41]
  • EHCPs should be clear, concise, understandable and accessible to parents, child/young person and providers/practitioners. [Para. 9.61]
  • Must be evidence-based and focus on how best to achieve outcomes.
  • No set format, but must include the following lettered sections in any order:

a] views, interests and aspirations of the child/young person and their parents;

b] description of SEN;

c] child/young person’s health needs related to SEN;

d] child/young person’s social care needs related to SEN;

e] outcomes sought for child/young person, including outcomes for adult life;

f] special educational provision required;

g] any health provision reasonably required by the learning difficulty or disability [LDD] which result in the child/young person having SEN;

h1] any social care provision which must be made for a child/young person under 18 resulting from section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970;

h2] any other social care provision reasonably required by the LDD which result in the child/young person having SEN. Includes adult social care provision being made to meet eligible needs under care Act 2014;

i] name and type of school;

j] details of Personal Budget if parents/young person have opted for this;

k] advice and information gathered during assessment [appendices]. [Paras. 9.62-9.69]

Reviewing an Education, Health and Care Plan

  • First review must be within 12 months of the date of issue of the EHCP. [Para. 9.166]
  • For children under 5, local authorities should consider reviewing an EHCP at least every 3 to 6 months. This would complement the duty to review at least annually and such reviews may be streamlined, depending on the needs of the child. [Para. 9.178]
  • Parents/young person, school or other institution, local authority SEN officer, health representative and local authority social care representative must be invited and given at least 2 weeks’ notice. [Para. 9.176]
  • School must seek advice and information prior to the meeting from all parties invited, and send it to all invited at least 2 weeks before the meeting. [Para. 9.176]
  • School must send report of meeting to all invited within 2 weeks of the meeting. [Para. 9.176]
  • Within 4 weeks of the review meeting, the local authority must decide whether it will keep the EHCP as it is, amend it or cease to maintain it and notify the parents/young person and school or other institution. [Para. 9.176]
  • From Year 9 onwards, review must consider what provision is required to assist in preparing for adulthood and independent living. [Para. 9.184]

Amending an Education, Health and Care Plan

  • If a local authority proposes to amend an EHCP, it must send the parent or young person a copy of the existing [non-amended] EHCP and an accompanying notice with details of the proposed amendments and copies of evidence to support them, and must give parents/young person 15 days to comment. [Paras. 9.193-9.198]

Ceasing an Education, Health and Care Plan

  • Local authorities may cease to maintain an EHCP when any of the following apply: the local authority is not longer responsible for the child or young person [e.g. child has moved to another local authority]; it decides that special educational provision is no longer needed; a young person aged 16+ starts paid employment [including employment with training but not apprenticeships]; the young person goes into Higher Education; the young person aged 18+ leaves education and no longer wishes to engage in further learning; or they wish to continue in learning but the local authority believes maintaining a plan is not appropriate. [Para. 9.194]
  • Local authorities must not simply cease to maintain an EHCP once a young person is 18 or over. [Paras. 9.199-9.204]

Naming an education provider

  • Children must be educated in accordance with their parents’ wishes so long as this is compatible with the efficient education of others and does not entail unreasonable expenditure. [Paras. 9.78-9.94]

Personal Budgets

  • Parents or young people over 16 can request a Personal Budget [funding to buy services or support set out in the EHCP based on clear agreed outcomes] when the EHCP is written or at annual review. [Paras. 9.95 -9.124]


  • Current principles will still apply: if parents’ or child/young person’s preferred place is further away than nearest available place to meet needs, the local authority is not obliged to provide transport to place further away. Could either name nearer school or name further one and ask parents to pay all or part of transport costs. [Para. 9.214]

Resolving disputes

  • Local authorities must make independent disagreement resolution services available, but use of the service is voluntary. Disagreement resolution can help resolve, or prevent from escalating, non-Tribunal matters [e.g. failure to make provision as set out in a Plan]. [Para. 11.6]
  • This is different to mediation, which applies specifically to parents or young person who are considering appealing to the Tribunal [only some types of appeal]. [Paras. 11.5-11.13]
  • Mediation services must also be independent of the local authority. [Para. 11.15]
  • Mediation aims to enable appeals to be settled more quickly and amicably. Parents and young person must contact a mediation adviser before registering an appeal about education/health/care needs assessments or the SEN element of an EHCP. [Para. 11.5]
  • If parents want to go to mediation, the local authority must attend. [Para. 11.26]
  • Mediation can also be used for health and social care elements of a plan. No tribunal for these elements. [Paras.11.31-11.37]

More information about SEN reform:

  • You can also visit the IPSEA [Independent Parental Special Education Advice] website for more detailed information about the changes: