parentsdisabledchildThe Children and Families Bill, described by the government as one of the biggest changes in special education for three decades, has received Royal Assent after more than 2 years of consultation, debates and local authority testing.

The Act aims to transform the system for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) by placing families at the centre of decision making.

Further reading: Code of Practice could undermine Children & Families Bill's goals, warns Mencap

It sets out requirements that education, health and care services should work together to provide coordinated support across all areas of a child or young person’s life.

The Act will replace SEN statements with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans, and the system will run from birth to 25, rather than ending when a young person leaves school.

Important step towards better outcomes
As strategic reform partner to the Department for Education, the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) has helped inform many of the key aspects of their Bill and its chief executive Christine Lenehan has described it assent as "integral to the disabled children’s sector".

“The Children’s and Families Act marks an important step to getting better outcomes for disabled children and young people and with special educational needs," she added.

"We have been pleased to work in partnership with Government to deliver the Act but will be equally pleased to work closely with all partners on the implementation of the Act to ensure it delivers in practice."

Undoubtedly more work to be done
The Act has also received the backing of the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign run by four leading organisations – Contact a Family, Council for Disabled Children, Mencap and the Special Educational Consortium.

Simon Parkinson, Board member of EDCM, said: "The Children and Families Act 2014 is the culmination of over 2 years work aimed at improving the support system for disabled children and young people and those with SEN.

"However, many families are yet to be persuaded that the battles for support will end, and there is undoubtedly more work to be done to ensure that the practice guidance contained in the new Code of Practice is fit for purpose. Nevertheless, we can now start to look forward to finding out how the new system will be translated on the ground and what impact this will have on the lives of those it is meant to support."

"This is only the start of a long process of the cultural change that is so urgently needed. EDCM will monitor how well the new system is delivering for all disabled children, young people and their families and those with SEN, especially the majority of children without an EHC Plan. We will campaign both nationally and locally to ensure that disabled children, young people and those with SEN actually get what has been promised to them."

The Children & Families Bill will take effect from September 2014 - for full details visit: