Getting to grips with the SEND reforms

Daphne Henderson-FigueroaAuthor Daphne Henderson-FigueroaDate 01 Sep 2016

As part of the team that looks after CDC communications and membership, I’m always listening really closely to what colleagues in SEND are seeing as priorities, challenges and successes.

Be it through chatting to the lovely CDC members at Member Meetings or from keeping a close eye on social media, what strikes me lately is the fact that many of you say you don’t have the time to wade through the sheer wealth of information out there about the SEND reforms.

Does that sound like you? Then read on – this might make your life a bit easier! We are two years on from the start of the SEND reforms, and I know a lot of us have been busy trying to get our heads around the often complex changes in the law. So what better time than now to slow down and take stock of the support out there for professionals and young people with SEND and their families.

In a bid to make it easier for you to access the information and support you need, I’ve put together some of the top resources you’ve been searching for and using along with a brief run down of which organisations are supporting specialist areas this year.

The menu of support available

There’s a whole host of information out there about the SEND reforms for parents, young people, those working in health, education, social care and local authorities. It might seem a little overwhelming at first but fear not – you can view all this on one handy page here. As a ‘menu of support’, it shows you were to go to for advice, how to access services, where to find high quality training and how to get involved in professional networks. It’s a pretty good place to start getting to grips with the SEND reforms.

Specialist support

If what you’re after is more focused on specific areas of SEND, you might want to check out this page looking at specialist contracts. What this just means is that some organisations are working on providing support on specialist areas such as dyslexia, sensory impairment, speech and language and autism. It’s also where you’ll find details on who to approach about training for teaching staff, support for SENCOs, those working in youth offending teams and building the participation of children and young people with SEND. Click here for a full run down of who's doing what.

Support, toolkits and resources for:

Education professionals

To help you get to grips with some of the key themes, issues and challenges of the SEND reforms we've pulled together a host of resources and links to get you started along with details about training days and packages. 

We recommend:

SEN and Disability in the Early Years Toolkit 

This toolkit supports early years providers in implementing the SEN and disability reforms.

SEND reforms in the Early Year Settings 

This briefing summarises SEN and disability responsibilities in the early years and can be used by settings to review their progress in implementing the reforms.

Local authorities

The government has commissioned a number of organisations to provide support, training and advice to local authority teams. To find out what that support looks like in detail please visit our dedicated SEND reforms page. You can access this support by contacting your Regional Lead which are listed here. 

We recommend:

A Step-by-Step Guide to EHC plans 

This document is designed to support the completion of person-centred, legally compliant EHC Plans.

Local Offer Briefing

This briefing sets out the provision local authorities expect to be made available by schools, early years and post-16 providers.


We’ve got a section on the website dedicated to parents with a collection of tools, resources and organisations to go to for advice and support. Included is the very helpful ‘Family Guide to the SEN System’ and details of the Expert Parent Training Programme designed and led by parents to teach others how best to navigate the SEND reforms.

We recommend:

Disabled Children: A Legal Handbook 2nd Edition 

This handbook is an authoritative yet accessible guide to the legal rights of disabled children and their families in England and Wales. 

Health professionals

Through our work with NHS England, the Department of Health and other public health bodies we’ve developed a number of resources, toolkits, guidance and training that we think will help you. These are helpfully located here along with resources from around the sector.

We recommend:

Children and Families Act 2014 Implementation Update: Issues relating to health

This report focusses on emerging learning about the key challenges facing local area, messages about practice from local areas and themes to be addressed in future work.

Making It Happen - e-learning 

Making it Happen is a series of on-line e-learning modules that are aimed at supporting health professionals understand and implement the requirements of the Children and Families Act.

Social care professionals

We have developed a number of resources to help you unpick and understand the various duties in the Children and Families Act, Care Act and Mental Capacity Act. In this special section there are also details about how to keep up to date with future workshops and events to help you in your day to day practice.

We recommend:

Role of social care in implementing the Children & Families Act

An essential guide to understanding the role of social care in light of the recent SEND reforms.

Young people

Young people’s advisory group on the SEND reforms, EPIC, created some fantastic resources for other young people to help them make sense of the changes in the law. There are also some useful links, guides organisations to go to for support here.

We recommend:

EHC Plans explained

SEND Reforms Explained