Children and Families Act 2014

The introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA), which came into force on 1 September 2014, brought about the biggest change in the world of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities since the introduction of Statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN) in 1981.


The introduction of the CFA is a very exciting development as it produces huge opportunities for positive change, with the whole system becoming wholly person-centred. However, its’ introduction has increased complexity and currently there are still two legal systems in operation.


The key changes are:

  • The views and wishes of children, young people and parent carers are to be at the centre of the entire system. They should be fully listened to, involved in all aspects of planning and in the decision making. This is not a new requirement but is further strengthened.
  • The introduction of Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans, which look at every aspect of a child’s and young person’s life, is meant to engage Health and Social Care in a more meaningful way.
  • EHC Plans extend up to 25 years of age if there is a educational reason for them to continue.
  • EHC Plans continue into further education instead of Learning Difficulties Assessments (LDA).
  • All Statements of SEN will be transferred onto EHC Plans via an EHC needs assessment by April 2018.
  • The school based categories of School Action and School Action Plus has been replaced by a single stage of SEN Support.
  • The introduction of personal budgets in education to give more flexibility and choice for families.
  • The creation of the Local Offer website by Local Authorities (LAs) so that families can access information and give them more choice and control to enable fully informed decisions to be made.
  • There is more focus on preparing for adulthood in advance of any transition phase; for example, moving from school to college or from children’s services to adult services.
  • There is an increased focus on early resolution to disagreements. All LAs now have both disagreement resolution and mediation services. To consider mediation is compulsory (apart from appeals only about placement) before young people and parent carers can lodge an appeal with the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.
  • The legal rights pass from the parent carer to the young person (if they have mental capacity) at the end of the young person’s compulsory education. Furthermore, LAs now have to provide a young persons’ advocacy service for those aged 16-25.
  • LAs are now inspected by Ofsted in relation to their implementation of the system.


As part of her previous employment, Annette was central to the development of each of the items listed above for her LA.


As can be seen, this has not simplified the system but SEND Consultancy Service can support you in navigating through this complex world of SEND.


Further information can be found by following this link:

Legislation for England


Code of practice SEND

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