A local authority’s Local Offer sets out in one place information about provision they expect to be available across education, health and social care for all children/young people in their area who have special educational needs/disabilities including those who do not have Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.
It is potentially a very significant resource - a major information hub, service showcase and communication system central to the entire special educational needs/disability system.
As well as public services, the Local Offer includes those services provided by the private, voluntary and community sectors. It is intended to evolve over time in response to local need and service-user feedback both on a continuing basis and through an annual review. Click here to find out what it contains.
All schools and further education providers are partners with the local authority in relation to the Local Offer and have specific responsibilities. (See the 0-25 SEND Code of Practice, 2015 (CoP) Chapter 4 and the Special Educational Needs and Disability (Local Offer) Regulations 2014).
- Cooperate with their local authority as required in relation to the
- Contribute specific information about their school to the Local Offer
(see CoP, sections 4.34-4.36);
- Link from their local offer information to their 'SEN Information Report';
- Publicise the local authority Local Offer via the school website;
- Draw the attention of children/young people with special educational needs/disabilities and their parents to the Local Offer.
The local authority should also engage with providers of relevant early years education, particularly those in receipt of early education funding.
Schools and other education providers will also be able to:
- Use the local offer as a resource to buy in services for children/young people with special educational needs/disabilities as part of their school provision management processes.
'The Government's Aiming High Agenda (2009-2011) made it obligatory for managers
and professionals in all English local areas to provide families with accessible information,
to consult with them about local services and to develop and nurture parents' roles
in shaping local services at a strategic level.'
In the new 2014 special educational needs/disability framework, this has been expanded into interactive Local Offers managed by local authorities in communication with partners, providers and service users.
The Local Offer is intended to be a continually evolving, open and transparent virtual marketplace that not only brings together special education/disability service providers (public, private and voluntary) and service users in one forum, but provides special education/disability information, guidance and system clarity/transparency, as well as giving all parties opportunities to access, feed back about and contribute to the Local Offer.
In the 0-25 SEND Code of Practice (2015) a complete chapter (Chapter 4) is devoted to the Local Offer, and there is an associated set of regulations - click here to view them.
The purpose of a local authority's Local Offer is:
- To signpost sources of information and guidance;
- To highlight the range of local resources and services available;
- To improve choice and access for children/young people with special educational needs/disabilities and their families by providing clear, comprehensive, transparent and accessible information about the range of services and provision in the local area and beyond;
- To make provision more responsive to local needs and aspirations by directly involving children/young people, their families and service providers in its development and review; their feedback about the Local Offer informs the local 'joint strategic needs assessment' which, in turn, influences future local authority and Health Service strategies and provision.
The Local Offer will give helpful, relevant and up to date information about services, facilities and activities available for:
- Children/young people from 0-25 years with special educational needs/disabilities;
- Their parents and carers;
- Staff from organisations working with and supporting children and young people, their parents and carers.
(Peterborough City Council, 2014)
Although the Local Offer is managed by the local authority, the primary focus of the Local Offer is service users - children/young people who have special educational needs/disabilities (and/or who are 'looked after') and their parents/carers.
The Local Offer must be collaborative. As well as services, legally, the local
authorities must involve children/young people and their parents/carers
- Planning the content of the Local Offer;
- Deciding how to publish the Local Offer;
- Reviewing and sharing their opinions about the Local Offer.
Part 1: What does the Local Offer say about your school?
- Find your Local Offer online.
- Locate and read your school information.
- Compare your school information with the
0-25 SEND Code of Practice list of the information it should include, and note down anything that you think it has missed.
Part 2: Compare your school's Local Offer information and their SEN Information Report on the school website. What do you notice?
- Peterborough City Council (2014) 'SEND Reforms - Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQs)'. [Online at: http://www.peterborough.gov.uk/children_and_families/pet
erboroughs_local_offer/faqs.aspx; accessed: 13.3.15]
- Shelley, P. (2010) The How to Guide to Parent Participation (v2). Birmingham: Together for Disabled Children. [Online at: http://www.nnpcf.org.uk/useful-information/parent-carer-participation-how-to-guide/; accessed: 27.2.15]