New information resource for families with children with special educational needs

Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and their families, are to be more involved in decisions made about their lives, through changes being implemented by Leeds City Council as part of national reforms.

From September, the council will launch of the ‘Leeds Local Offer’, a new resource to help families in Leeds find services for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities.

The Leeds Local Offer is one of a series of reforms to services in Leeds in response to the Children and Families Act 2014. This new legislation, which comes into effect from September 1 2014, will change how education, health and social care agencies support children and young people with the most complex needs and their families.

These agencies must work more closely with families and make sure they have greater choice and control over the services and support they access. They must also make it easier for families to find out what support is available by publishing a ‘local offer’ of all education, health, social care and leisure services in the area for children and young people aged 0 to 25 who have SEN and disabilities.

Leeds City Council’s complex needs service has been working with a wide range of partners, including schools, colleges, early years settings, health services, social care providers and voluntary groups to produce the new Leeds Local Offer, which will be available online from September.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member for children and families said:

“Through the Leeds Local Offer, we hope to make it easier for families to find information to meet a range of needs. We are also working with our partners to improve how we support the children and young people in the city who have the most complex needs. By reforming our systems for assessing those needs and looking again at how we support those children and young people we can help them achieve their best possible outcomes and prepare for adult life.

“From September, we will see Statements of SEN being replaced with new joint education, health and care plans, which will hopefully give children and young people with the most complex needs and their families a quicker, more stream-lined experience of assessing their needs and planning services and support to help them achieve their best possible outcomes.

“These new plans will be produced in partnership with families, giving them much more control over the services they access. Families can also take control of the budget used to pay for the services in their plan.

“It’s all about greater transparency, greater choice and more control for families”.

The Leeds Local Offer makes it easier for families to find out what services they are entitled to and what support they can find in their local community. It includes services to meet a wide range of needs, from children and young people who need a little extra support to access learning and leisure alongside their peers, to those who have very complex needs and may need to access more specialist services.

A Leeds Local Offer website is being created, working closely with parents and carers, who have helped to decide what information to include and how to present it in the most user-friendly way. The new website will be available from the September.

EPIC Leeds is the parent/ carer and families participation forum in Leeds. Members have worked closely with Leeds City Council to make sure local families have been involved in planning for the reforms.

Sara Smithson, chair of EPIC Leeds said:

"Involving families from the very beginning ensures that services are designed to meet their purpose, achieve their outcomes and suit the families. It is an additional bonus that this also saves money meaning there is more in the pot to go further to help other families”

The Leeds Local Offer is just one of the ways that the new legislation aims to improve services for children and young people with SEN and disabilities.

To find out more, visit the new Leeds Local Offer website at www.leeds.gov.uk/localoffer, call the Leeds SEND Information Advice Support Service helpline on 0113 39 51200, or email the complex needs service best practice team via bpteam@leeds.gov.uk


For media enquiries, please contact:

Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk