What is Section 23?
Under Section 23 of the Children and Families Act 2014, Somerset Council is responsible for all children and young people with SEND in Somerset.
They are responsible for a child or young person if they have been identified as someone who has or may have special educational needs.
Health professionals and health bodies, all have a legal duty under Section 23 and this duty covers Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts and any health professional currently working with children including paediatricians, GPs, health visitors, therapists, and other community healthcare professionals.
Why does a health professional need to discuss this with me?
Health professionals and health bodies, all have a legal duty under Section 23 of the Code of Practice to notify Somerset Council of any child under statutory school age (under the age of five years) who they consider may need to have some extra provision made for them when they start school.
Why is this information needed?
The Council will use this information to help them to plan education services and ensure that in future years they have enough education places in the right areas of Somerset. This also puts support in place to ensure the needs of all children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) are met.
What will happen?
Any health professional currently working with your child, including paediatricians or therapists will talk to you about your child’s difficulties and inform you if they believe that your child may have special educational needs when they start school.
This could be in a variety of different areas including – learning delays, communication difficulties or physical difficulties. They will ask your permission to notify the Council of this. If another professional has already asked your permission, then you will be able to let them know.
What if they improve and don’t need extra help?
We know that children develop and change greatly during their preschool years, so your child may improve and not actually need much extra support. Even if this happens, it is better that Somerset Council have this support in place, just in case. It is better to ensure support is available, but not needed rather than needed and not available.
Will this notification mean that my child will automatically get extra help?
No, this notification is to help planning on a wide scale so will not in itself lead to any direct support. There are other mechanisms of identifying and meeting your children’s needs and should your child’s early years provider identify that your child requires additional support, known as SEN Support, they will discuss with you why they think that this is necessary and what support will be available to support your child and yourselves.