What is the Area Wide Offer?
Achieving for Children’s Area Wide Offer is a statement which sets out what is expected of educational settings in relation to what they provide from within their budgets, as well as setting out what a person can do if the area wide offer is not being delivered or not meeting a child/young person’s needs. It sets out what could reasonably be expected to be available in all mainstream settings to meet the needs of children and young people without recourse to a statutory EHC needs assessment.
The Children and Families Act, supported by the funding reforms, has introduced a single pre-statutory stage called ‘SEN Support’ and this is relevant at all age levels. As a result, new funding arrangements mean that there is greater capacity for settings to respond and support the additional learning needs for children and young people with SEND.
All schools will have pupils who experience barriers to learning at some stage of their time in school or college. A number will have significant health, care, or other additional needs which require a level of support for their learning. The funding which is available to schools ensures that, for almost all pupils, their needs will be met from a range of interventions from within school resources with advice from other practitioners when needed.
The Local Authority (LA), schools, governing bodies and colleges each have responsibilities to ensure that they plan on the basis that, at all times, some individuals and groups of children/young people will be experiencing difficulties with learning. This guidance looks at two strands of support:
- whole school/college – systemic measures the school/college uses to ensure learning for all children and young people who have SEND
- targeted support which may be short or longer term interventions to support the learning needs of individuals and small groups
The expectations described are a key part of the larger Local Offer for learning.
What the Area Wide Offer aims achieve
In producing the Area Wide Offer AfC is working to ensure that all schools with Kingston and Richmond:
- provide suitable provision to all their students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
- have adequate capacity to effectively cater for the needs of children and young people with SEND.
- demonstrate improved rates of progress for all children and young people who have SEND.
- develop their services to ensure greater participation amongst children and young people with SEND.
What we expect educational settings to offer
AfC expects head teachers, governors and proprietors to carry out the legal duties in the SEND Code of Practice 2015 (opens a new window)
- where the word school is used this also includes other educational settings.
- the word pupil is used for children and young people.
Local Authorities are required to:
- ensure sufficiency of provision for pupils with SEND and keep this provision under constant review.
- involve children, their parents and young people, and schools in discussions and decisions about pupil individual support and local provision.
- make arrangements for the statutory assessment of pupils and maintain and review Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.
- provide information, advice and support on the take-up and management of Personal Budgets.
- in discussion with schools publish information on SEND funding and provision.
- monitor the progress of children with EHC plans and take appropriate action as required.
- provide information, support, advice and guidance to schools, parents and children/young people with SEN, including the Local Offer.
- meet their duties under the Equality Act 2010 (opens a new window) for pupils with disabilities (see ‘The Equality Act 2010 and Schools – Departmental advice for school leaders, school staff, governing bodies and local authorities (opens a new window)
- take such steps as are reasonable to meet the needs of pupils with SEND and additional needs.
- use their ‘best endeavours’ to meet pupils’ SEN – this means having regard to the SEN Code of Practice 2015.
- inform parents when pupils receive support for special educational needs and involve them in reviews of progress.
- for new pupil placements proposed by the Local Authority as part of the EHCP process, confirm whether they are able to offer a place to the pupil; if a school is unable to offer a place, the school must provide evidence to support this decision. This includes if the school is unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or Special Educational Needs of the child or young person, or; the attendance of the child at the named school or institution would be incompatible with the provision of efficient education for others or efficient use of resources.
- co-operate with the local authority in developing the local offer.
- have regard to the new 0-25 SEND Code of Practice.
- produce and publish online a School SEN Information Report (post 16 settings do not need to produce this report however it would be regarded as good practice).
- appoint a suitably qualified or experienced member of staff as SENCO as prescribed under the Education (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) Regulations 2008 (opens a new window). In post 16 settings they should have a named person responsible for SEN.
- make arrangements to support pupils with medical conditions; schools must have regard to statutory guidance supporting pupils at school with medical conditions.
Schools should have good quality Continuing Professional Development in place and engage with SENCO networks operated by AfC which are free and open to all schools throughout Kingston and Richmond
- should cooperate with the local authority.
- should have a member or a sub-committee with specific oversight of the school’s arrangements for SEN and disability.
- must publish information about the arrangements for the admission of disabled children and a disability accessibility plan.
- must ensure the SENCO is a qualified teacher who is on the senior leadership team or has a direct link to the leadership team.
- should determine and monitor the key responsibilities of the SENCO.
- must include any SEN information report on the school website.
- must inform parents and young people if the Child or Young Person is receiving special educational provision and is on the SEN register.
- must use their ‘best endeavours’ to ensure that special educational provision is made for a pupil.
- must admit a Child or Young Person to their school where they are named in the finalised EHC Plan.
- must ensure that arrangements are in place to support pupils at school with medical conditions.
The Head Teacher:
- should take overall responsibility for implementing the SEND reforms.
- ensure that the SENCO is able to influence strategic decisions about SEN.
- ensure the wider school community understands the implications of the reforms for whole school improvement (from governors to classroom teachers and teaching assistants).
- put in place arrangements to ensure parents are regularly engaged in discussions about the progress of their child (at least three times a year).
- ensure a process is in place for involving parents and young people in reviewing provision and planning for those currently receiving SEN support and any newly identified pupils with SEN.
- develop relationships with post-16 providers and explore how they will support pupils with SEN with their transition to post-16 education.
- oversee the day-to-day operation of school’s SEN policy.
- coordinate provision for children with SEN.
- liaise with the designated teacher where a Looked after Child has SEN.
- advise on the graduated approach to SEN Support, this is called the assess, plan, do, review cycle.
- advise on the use of the delegated SEN budget/other resources.
- liaise with parents of children with SEN or disability.
- link with other education settings and outside agencies.
- support pupil’s transition to the next phase of education, for instance when children move to secondary school.
- work with head and governors on duties relating to requirements of the Equality Act.
- ensure that SEN records are up to date.
Core Standards for all pupils and students in our schools and colleges
It is the responsibility of all schools/colleges to provide quality first teaching and appropriate support for all pupils and students. All children and young people are entitled to an education that enables them to make progress so that they: achieve their best; become confident individuals living fulfilling lives and; make a successful transition into adulthood, whether into employment, further or higher education or training.
Local authorities must make sure that the budget shares of schools and academies have an appropriate amount that enables them to contribute to the costs of the whole school’s additional SEN support arrangements, up to the mandatory cost threshold of £6,000 per pupil with SEN. This is a notional amount of funding, and should not be regarded by schools and academies as a substitute for their own budget planning and decisions about how much they need to spend on SEN support, or as a fixed budget sum for spending by schools.
Schools should use their notional SEN budget to fund up to £6,000 worth of special educational provision for a pupil with SEN. Not all pupils with SEN require special educational provision up to the amount of £6,000. If a pupil has needs that require support in excess of this delegated budget then schools and parents can apply for a statutory assessment of the pupils needs. After assessing the needs of the pupil concerned, demonstrating what is already in place, its impact and how the additional funding will be used to enable progress, the local authority will provide top up funding if it is required.
There is also a range of financial support available in post-16 education to support individual students subject to criteria. Examples of these are bursaries, vulnerable students and hardship funds. Each provider will have details of what is available and which students can access the funding.
In relation to pre-school settings, Early Education and Childcare Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities places a requirement on Local Authorities to establish an Early Years Inclusion Fund to support 3 and 4 year olds with emerging Special Educational Needs (SEN) or disabilities. Across Achieving for Children (AfC) this is the Early Years Special Educational Needs Inclusion Fund (EYSIF).
Personal Budgets – For those with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, there now exists the option to obtain a personal budget following a statutory assessment. The funding for the Education component of this comes from the AfC High Needs budget. The other funding sources for Personal Budgets, dependent on eligibility, are for Short Breaks, which are funded by Social Care, and Continuing Care, which is funded by Health (click here for more information on Personal Budgets (opens a new window)).
What to do if the Area Wide Offer is not being delivered
It is the responsibility of the leadership of the learning setting, including governors, headteacher or principal, to ensure that the setting is contributing to the Area Wide Local Offer. The SENCO or named person will work with the leadership of the setting to oversee the planning and delivery of the setting’s SEN Information Regulations as contribution to the Area Wide Local Offer.
If a parent/carer or young person is concerned the setting is not co-operating or providing the appropriate provision as part of their contribution to the Local Offer then they must engage in conversation with the relevant member of staff in the setting (ideally the class/subject teacher or SENCO or Head Teacher) to resolve the issue before making a formal complaint. If a parent/carer or young person is still dissatisfied they should ask the setting to provide the complaints policy and act on this guidance. It would be good practice for settings to publish their complaints policy on their website and to provide a hard copy on request. The complaints policy will lay out how the setting will resolve the matter. Complaints may be made in person, by telephone or in writing to the headteacher. If after writing to the headteacher, the parent/carer or young person is still not happy with the way the complaint has been dealt with, then the parent/carer or young person would need to formally contact in writing the Governing Body which has responsibility to address the complaint. The setting will be able to provide the contact details of the Governing Body.
Appeals and Complaints
If you would like to make a complaint about a school, you can find general information about this on the GOV.UK website, and how to make a complaint about a school (opens a new window).