Local authorities have statutory duties which are to publish and develop a Local Offer demonstrating the support they expect to be available for local children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities. The Local Offer falls into The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 (Part 4) and have two key purposes which is:
I. To provide clear, accessible and up-to-date information about the available provision and how to access it, and
II. To make provision more responsive to local needs and aspirations by directly involving disabled children and those with SEN and their parents and those with special educational needs or disabilities and service providers in its development review (DFE, 2014)
There are many advantages and disadvantages that can be found within the Local Offer such as one advantage being that young people between the ages of 16-25 who have special educational needs or disabilities and would like to stay in education or training, they will be entitled to an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. An Education Health and Care plan is a legalized certificate which refers to a child/young person’s special educational, health and social care needs. It describes the supplementary support that will be given in order to meet individual’s needs as well as how that support will facilitate the child/young person in order to achieve what they want to peruse in their life (DFE, 2014).
This is also seen as an advantage as this will reduce complications around transition due to statements no longer automatically ending at 16/18, as well as local authorities have to fund post-18 education/training under a plan, if that is required. However, a disadvantage to this would be that if the EHC plans are only for those between the ages of 16-25, then what happens to those who have special educational needs or disabilities and they are over the age of 25? This can possibly have a negative impact on those who have SEN or disabilities as by not having an EHC plan this would mean those young people would suffer from limited facilities as well as high expenses for those facilities.
An advantage for the local offer is that even though there are an great amount of additional support within the local offer in order to assist families who have SEN or disabilities, parents are allowed to make their own arrangements for their child’s education, this means that a local authority remains under no obligation to pay for independent schooling for a child with SEN, simply because the child’s parents prefer it. This can be seen as a strength for a parent as they will still be able to have a say in their child’s education as no one could possibly know what is best for their child other than that child’s parents.
Another advantage for the Local Offer is that comments which are in response to the Local offer must be published and action must be taken in order to solve or form a resolution to a majority of the feedback where appropriate. This is seen as a positive impact for both parents and young children who have SEN or disabilities as parents/careers will be able to have their own say and have hope that certain changes would be made in order to meet the need of all children (Martland, 2014).
Another advantage of the Local offer is that parents are able to apply for a personal budget funded by their local authority, for a child with an EHC plan, this is an advantage because parents are able to choose how they wish to spend the money which is provided by the local authority to address their child’s SEN. On the other hand, personal budgets are to be seen as giving a family more control and flexibility over the care provided to themselves and their child however, there is little reimbursement available if a family feels as though their budget is “too low”. If a family were to believe that their personal budgets were too low, then this would typically mean undergoing an internal review which would be processed by the local authority.
However, funding can be seen as a disadvantage for the local authority due to the local authority funding many health and social care environments such as schools, care homes, hospitals, etc. This can be seen as a negative a weakness because if there were to be a cut on funding due to financial issues, then it would most likely be the less fortunate ones who would suffer resulting to limited resources in order to facilitate the needs of the child/young person who has SEN or disabilities. Another reason why funding will be seen as a negative is because the responsibility to co-operate with local authority in exercising its purposes in relation to children with special educational needs or disabilities, can possibly conflict with restrictions forced on the NHS bodies by budget cuts (DFE, 2014).
Finally, a disadvantage of the Local offer is that you can only be able to receive an EHC plan once you have been professionally diagnosed with an SEN or disability. This is seen as a negative due to there being no definition to “special educational needs” (Martland, 2014). No one truly knows how to define it, therefore how are we able to know who needs an EHC plan, and those who need it, can it be possible they are being declined it but yet their “needs” are not considered as a SEN or disability.
To conclude we have looked at and explained critically how the local offer plays a big role in those who have Special Educational Needs or Disabilities lives and just how important it is to have these aspects in order to facilitate not only their learning, but their later adulthood lives.