Anyone providing services for children with special needs – health, education or social service departments, as well as voluntary organisations – must act within the legal framework. Legislation can change at any time and all health, education and social care practitioners, also Early Years workers, should be alert to new Acts and Regulations. There have been many changes to legislation in the UK over recent years which have affected this and a gradual increase in entitlements for these pupils.
The table below has a brief outline of the legal entitlements of disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs:-
The Warnock Report 1978 The Warnock Report drafted in 1978 radically changed the conceptualization of special educational needs. It introduced the idea of special educational needs statements of SEN, an approach, based on common educational goals for all children regardless of their abilities or disabilities: namely independence, enjoyment, and understanding. It introduced a number of suggestions as to how with these needs should be supported – through access to the curriculum, changes to the curriculum and changes to the environment. It influenced the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice 2001 through its focus on inclusion.
The Education Act 1981 and the Education Act 1996 This was based on the findings of Warnock Report and in particular the Act recognised the essential role of parents as partners with the school in the education of their children.
The Education Reform Act 1988 This Act introduced a national curriculum for all children including those with special educational needs, and are expected and entitled to follow. Although it did allow the schools to modify or change what was taught for SEN pupils if the basic curriculum was not appropriate for them.