Hartlepool families help shape huge reform in special needs education

Councillor Chris Simmons
Councillor Chris Simmons

FAMILIES in Hartlepool have helped to shape the biggest special education needs reform in a generation as a new law comes into force this week.

People affected by disability in the town, along with Hartlepool Borough Council officials, all contributed to the changes for the new Children and Families Act which aims to offer more help for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Hartlepool is one of 31 ‘pathfinder’ areas that took part in a national pilot from October 2011 to March 2014, which was aimed at giving families greater choice in decisions and ensuring needs are properly met.

The new system will extend rights and protection to young people by introducing a new birth to 25 Education, Health and Care plan. Professionals will also provide more tailored support to families, giving them the help and assistance they need.

Councillor Chris Simmons, chairman of the council’s Children’s Services Committee, said: “We have worked successfully in partnership with young people, parents, voluntary and community sector organisations, schools, colleges and health colleagues to trial new ways to assess needs and plan support for children and young people with special educational needs or a disability.

“This new act places families at the centre of the system and I am delighted that we all have had the opportunity to bring such a positive change.”