They highlight serious concerns and state that:
‘It is not fit for purpose as legal guidance for the new system for children with special educational needs (SEN) being introduced by the Children and Families Bill.’
The NAS say that the Draft Code does not mention the Autism Act and National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guidelines on Autism.
‘both of which are central for shared understanding of diagnosis and support, across health, education and social care and the challenges of transition for young people with autism.’
The NAS also highlight that the needs of children and young people with autism are not accurately reflected in the Draft Code. Difficulties with cognition, learning, social, mental and emotional health are not addressed. Sensory issues are also not included.
The NAS believe that the current Code does include improvements in self-help, personal and social skills as measures of adequate progress. However they state that:
‘This presents a narrow focus on educational attainment for determining whether additional SEN provision is needed.’
They believe that this could result in the social, emotional and mental health needs of children and young people on the autistic spectrum, and particularly those with Asperger’s Syndrome, being under identified.
They believe that:
‘SEN Support, which replaces School Action and School Action Plus, lacks clarity on triggers for different levels of action for children with SEN.’
This removal of guidance on Individual Education Plans the NAS believe could leave both schools and parents without a clear framework for ‘recording and reporting on a child’s progress.’
They explain that a number of legal requirements are either not explained or are not clearly explained. They include:
‘criteria for assessment for EHC Plans (which will replace statements); which elements of the assessment are legally required and what factors health should take into account when deciding whether to agree or disagree with the health support set out in a plan. Without practical explanations of how to meet legal requirements the Draft Code fails to provide parents with a clear account of their rights and entitlements.’
The NAS also has concerns over the complaints procedure identified for health and social care in that the service will be unable to:
‘Provide timely or enforceable solutions if parents are unhappy about the health and social care support set out in EHC Plans.’
The NAS is a member of the Special Education Consortium and will be working with them over the next few months to campaign to make sure that the final Code is strong and clear.
The final version of the Code of Practice is expected in April 2014.
The NAS full response can be found here
For more information form the National Autistic Society go to their website