In October 2013 the DFE published the new draft SEN code of practice, which will take effect from September 2014. I have heard that the final code will available 'some time in June...'
Chapter 5 of the draft code is all about the 'Local Offer', and rather than paraphrase, I have lifted the rationale straight from the draft doc:
5.1 The local offer
Local authorities must publish a local offer, setting out in one place information
about provision they expect to be available for children and young people in their
area who have SEN, including those who do not have EHC plans.
The local offer has two key purposes:
• To provide clear, comprehensive and accessible information about the provision available; and
• To make provision more responsive to local needs and aspirations by directly involving children and young people with SEN, parents and carers, and service providers in its development and review.
It is clear that the local offer should not 'simply be a directory of existing services' and that through the process of developing the local offer all parties will consider how to improve provision.
Further advice is given in the draft document:
The local offer should be:
• Collaborative: local authorities must involve parents, children and young people in developing and reviewing the local offer. They must also cooperate with those providing services.
• Accessible: the published local offer should be easy to understand, factual and jargon-free. It should be structured in a way that relates to young people’s and parents’ needs (for example by broad age group or type of special educational provision). It should be well signposted and publicised.
• Comprehensive: parents and young people should know what support is available across education, health and social care from 0 to 25 and how to access it. The local offer must include eligibility criteria where relevant and make clear where to go for information, advice and support, as well as how to make complaints about provision or appeal against decisions.
• Transparent: the local offer must be clear about how decisions are made and who is accountable and responsible for them.
The Special Educational Needs (Local Offer) Regulations 2014 sets out a schedule for the publication of local offers although it is less clear how and when schools should do this and what co-operation with local authorities actually means. I await for someone more knowledgeable or more widely read to help me with that!
In the meantime I have been looking at different primary school websites after googling 'school local offer examples'. I had looked at Marvels Lane Primary School's local offer and a couple of others last half term after a cluster SENco meeting, but I liked the transparency of this one so thought it unnecessary to look any further; their Local Offer felt like a good starting point for me (thank you to the authors!) I am not sure at the moment whether our cluster will have a joint one, which will be tweaked for each school, or whether we will all write our own. It is a supportive, collaborative and co-operative cluster that I belong to, so before I do any more work I will ask the question. Once ours is written, it will of course be shared in the hope that it supports others to write their own.
Other useful links
The Key: Local offer: templates for schools
York School Local Offer template
Understanding good practice in the move over to the new arrangements for SEN
http://www.swingate.medway.sch.uk/about-us/sen-local-offer - comprehensive information for parents from Swingate Primary School
Our cluster SEN chair and I have had some conversations through email this weekend and it is more apparent (to me) now that the LA is responsible for producing the local offer. This doesn't mean that schools can't, and indeed I have used the Swingate Primary school one as a base to create one for our school - it is good practice after all. I acknowledge their support in helping me develop mine! You can read the first draft of the one I am creating here. In the nature of sharing, if you like it please use it, but please acknowledge that it came via Swingate.