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Special Educational Needs Addition to CEA

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Special Educational Needs Addition to CEA

Important Information for Parents and Schools regarding changes to the Special Educational Needs Addition to the MOD Continuity of Education Allowance

The MOD regulations for the Special Educational Needs Addition to the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA (SENA) and CEA (SENA)(Day)) have been revised with effect from January 2017; important changes which parents and schools should be aware of have been listed below including a list of frequently asked questions.

If further advice is required please contact CEAS by email: DCYP-CEAS-enquiries@mod.uk  or telephone: 01980 618244.

  • The aim of Continuity of Education Allowance (Special Educational Needs Addition) (CEA (SENA)) is to contribute towards the additional costs associated with a specific support plan for an individual service child who has a level of Special Educational Needs (SEN) which cannot reasonably be met within the expected resources of a school.
  • The previous SENA system defined Special Educational Needs (SEN) as solely being ‘Dyslexia’. The new sections have been updated so that SEN is defined in terms as used by other government departments such as the Department for Education.
  • School generated information is required to evidence the level of a child’s special needs. School staff have the experience and knowledge of individual children and should be the best source of detailed information, collected over time, as to an individual child.
  • State boarding schools already work within the existing SEN Code of Practice and therefore SEN provision within those schools is easily understood as well as it being inspected by Ofsted
  • Independent schools other than Independent Special Schools are not bound by the SEN Code of Practice but do work with the duties outlined by the 2010 Equality Act – which requires all schools to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ when working with a child with special educational and/or additional needs
  • The requirement within the January 17 JSP 752 (version 29) regulations is that all SENA applications will now use the revised application paperwork and include a detailed individualised support plan for the child, articulated by the school and clearly outlining what the school can provide and also what the school believes is beyond what is ‘reasonable’ to provide from their existing resources
  • The application process will therefore have a more transparent focus on any potential gap between what the independent school does provide and what they believe should be provided through additional funding.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

If SENA is changing, will I have to re-apply now, although my eligibility is still valid for some time yet?

SENA has always been a time limited allowance and that will not change with the revised arrangements. As before it will be the case that each eligibility certificate will have an end date. The SENA application process can take between 4-12 weeks and that is the same whether it is a new application or a renewal application. Decisions on renewals are taken based on the evidence that is provided. There are times when the evidence provided by the school is not clear enough to make a decision and in those cases we may request that the school gives better detail – hence why it can take up to 12 weeks to reach a decision.

If you intend to apply for a renewal of SENA then it is best to do so 12 weeks before the expiry date on your current certificate. In the meantime it is also best to make sure that your child’s school is capturing the information that it should be doing routinely, i.e. the interventions that they are using and their rationale for what they are doing, the outcomes and progress of those interventions for your child.

My child has no history of SEN.  Will I be able to apply for SENA as he has just started boarding school and they think they may have discovered he has a need?

SEN can and does emerge at different ages and can take many and varied forms. Not all SEN requires an allowance to support the child’s needs, since much SEN related support should be routine for good schools and good teachers to be delivering as part of their practice. Decisions as to whether or not a child’s SEN is complex enough to require additional funding can only be taken based on the quality of the information provided. That information includes information specific to your child but it also includes information on what the school is doing and what they think that they should be doing differently for your child. That kind of information takes time to generate as every child is different and schools may work in different ways.

If your child has just started boarding school then it will take time for that school to collate the information that they would like to present which has led them to believe that your child has SEN and that it is complex enough to require something that they do not routinely provide. In the meantime it would also be useful for you to obtain information from your child’s previous school as to what they understood as to how your child presented in that school. That would help us to be able to understand any potential future application for SENA.

Under the Equality Act 2010 schools should be making reasonable adjustments – what does this mean?

Reasonable adjustments are those steps that schools have a duty to take to avoid ‘substantial disadvantage’ for pupils with a disability. The term ‘disability’ itself is also one that needs explanation and there are many resources online which explain these terms in more detail for example here.

Many adjustments are about changes in practice rather than to do with provision of anything expensive. A simple example would be a pupil with a visual impairment, who may require information printed in a larger font and it is entirely reasonable for a teacher to print any hand outs in a way that the pupil can readily access. Differentiating the curriculum means that pupils in the same class may have information and teaching presented to them in slightly different ways within the same class and that would also be a reasonable adjustment. In the state sector a school is expected to provide additional services to pupils with SEN up to the first £6,000 of provision. While that same expectation is not applied to the independent sector, who can and do charge parents directly for various services, the SEN allowance decision process expects that a range of adjustments have already been made by the independent school before the parents are encouraged to apply for SENA.

Why is the SENA process changing?

The SEN system has evolved significantly over recent years. The level of skill and expectation for all teachers has risen and it is expected now that all teachers are teachers of children with SEN. The old system where by a child with SEN was removed from main stream classes to be taught separately, often in specialist units or special schools changed many years ago with the move towards better inclusion.

The 2017 update of the SENA process brings the allowance into a more current and evidence based system, where the allowance is available to support SEN on a case by case basis rather than it being tightly ring fenced to only one aspect of SEN. The change in the process will also allow a better body of information to be generated by school staff so that it includes information on the child themselves but also builds evidence of what additional support has been delivered and what works for that child.

Will the new process take longer for me to receive the payments?

The process of payments remains the same which requires you to have a current SENA eligibility certificate and to process your claims in the usual way. Decisions on eligibility will take between 4-12 weeks and will always been significantly quicker if the information from the school regarding your child’s needs and the plan for how they are providing for those needs or will provide for them in the future is presented with detail and clarity. The updated application form will help guide the schools in how they need to record and present information and CEAS is always available to guide you as parents in the questions and requests that you can be asking of the school.