This web page looks at the information local authorities must publish about the provision they expect to be available in their area for children and young people from 0 to 25 who have special educational needs. You may also wish to read getting extra help in school (England) and EHC needs assessments (England).
What is the local offer?
Local authorities are required to develop a 'local offer' which gives information on provision for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) both in and outside the local area. The local authority should involve children and young people with SEN, their parents/carers and service providers in developing the 'local offer'.
The National Autistic Society has produced Local voices, local choices - a guide that gives local authorities techniques and ideas for running consultations for young people with autism.
The local offer should:
- be clear, comprehensive, accessible and transparent
- engage local interested parties in its development and review.
Local authorities must:
- make their local offer widely available, accessible and it must be on a website
- publish arrangements for those without access to the internet about how they can get the information
- make sure that it is accessible for different groups, including disabled people and those with different types of SEN.
Content of the local offer
The local offer should set out, in one place, information about provision the local authority expects to be available for children and young people with SEN living in their area. There is certain information that the local offer must contain.
- education, health and care provision for children and young people with SEN
- arrangements for identifying and assessing SEN, including requesting an education, health and care needs assessment - this is a detailed multi-disciplinary assessment undertaken for children who have significant and complex SEN
- other education provision outside of schools and colleges (for example, sports or arts provision)
- training provision including apprenticeships
- arrangements for travel to and from schools, colleges and early years providers
- support for children and young people moving between phases of education and to prepare for adulthood
- sources of information, advice and support in the area in relation to SEN eg The Information, Advice and Support Services Network, forums for parents and carers, support groups, childcare and leisure activities
- arrangements for dispute resolution, mediation, complaints and the right of appeal against a local authority decision to the First-tier Tribunal.
Education, health and care provision
should include provision available in mainstream and special schools, and include details of independent or non-maintained special schools. It should outline information about local support services that are available to mainstream schools and other settings (for example, educational psychology, autism advisory services). It should also include information about local arrangements for partnership working between schools to support children and young people with SEN, and arrangements for providing additional funding for children and young people with high levels of need.
Health provision should include information about health care provision for children and young people with SEN, (such as, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy services) and mental health services. It should also include health and care provision that might commonly be needed by children and young people with SEN, such as wheelchair services and community equipment. Portage, continence services, physiotherapy and provision for those with complex health needs should also be included.
Social care provision should include support for children and young people moving between social care services (from children to adult services), assistance to support independent living and details of the short breaks for disabled children, young people and their families, which local authorities have a duty to provide.
Identifying and assessing SEN
The local offer should clearly set out arrangements in school for:
- identifying the particular learning needs of a child or young person
- modifying teaching methods and the provision of additional aids
- involving parents and carers in decisions about meeting their child’s SEN
- securing additional services, professional advice, equipment and facilities needed.
The local offer should make it clear where information provided by schools can be found. Schools have a duty to inform parents of any special educational provision being made for their child.
Information about Education, Health and Care needs assessments
As well as providing information about the support that is available from within the schools own resources, the local offer should include information about:
- how an education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment can be requested
- how the local authority will consider a request for an assessment and inform parents of their decision
- how parents will be involved in the assessment process
- any support available to help families during the assessment process
- the assessment timescales
- the process for preparing a Education, Health and Care plan
- the option of a personal budget (funding to buy the services or support the Education, Health and Care plan says is needed), who is eligible and how to ask for one
- arrangements for mediation, dispute resolution and appeals.
Training and apprenticeships
The local offer must identify training opportunities, apprenticeships, traineeships and supported internships available to young people in the area. This is to provide a smooth transition from education into employment. The information that local authorities publish should identify providers who have particular expertise relevant to young people with SEN. It must include information on how young people can apply for these opportunities, or make it clear where this information can be found. The information should include any entry requirements, including age limits and educational attainment.
The local officer must include information about transport arrangements and the local authorities' policy statements.
It must include information about:
- any arrangements for specialised transport (eg specially fitted buses)
- any support available with transport costs.
It should also include information about:
- any support available to help children and young people use transport (including public transport)
- any training available the help with independent travel.
Preparing for adulthood
The support available to help young people with SEN move into adulthood should include information about:
- preparing for and finding employment
- finding somewhere to live
- participating in the community.
Advice and support
One of the key pieces of information that must be included in the local offer is where to get advice, information and support. All local authorities must have an impartial advice information and support (IAS) service and should make sure that advice and guidance for young people is tailored appropriately.
The Information, Advice and Support Services Network (IASS) provide impartial advice, information and support to parents in relation to SEN and provision. In addition, the Government has released funding to recruit and train ‘independent supporters’ to help families of children with SEN with the new SEN processes. Independent supporters will be able to spend time with families to offer the help and advice they need.
Dispute resolution, mediation, complaints and right to appeal
Details of the dispute resolution arrangements must be set out in the local offer. These must be made known to parents, as well as head teachers, governing bodies, proprietors and principals of schools and post-16 provisions.
The local offer must also set out the arrangements the local authority has made for parents to access mediation information services. If parents or young people want to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal against a local authority's decision about SEN, they must first contact a mediation service so the local offer must explain how to do this.
Reviewing the local offer
Local authorities should make sure that the special educational and social care provision available in their area and outside their area for children and young people with SEN is kept under review. This should be done in consultation with parents and young people in the area.
Periodically, local authorities must publish comments received about its local offer from parents of children with SEN. They should also publish the response to those comments, including any action that the local authority intends to take. If you have any questions, comments or concerns about the local offer in your area, you could contact your local authority or council.
The Government has created a series of leaflets for children and young people, which explain key changes to the special educational needs and disability support system. The Department for Education, together with the council for disabled children, has created a series of related videos explaining the changes. See link below.
SEN and disability support changes information for young people.
Further help from the NAS
The NAS, in partnership with the Department for Education, have developed a toolkit that gives children and young people the chance to say what changes they would like to make to education, health care and social care plans. You can order or download this toolkit here.
This is me! - My assessment profile
Further help for parents trying to obtain an appropriate education for their child is available from our Education Rights Service.
For general help and information please contact our Autism Helpline.
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