Education Reforms in England, Wales and Northern Ireland affecting children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities


In England, the Children and Families Act 2014 came into force fully in April 2018, giving rise to changes in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities system. SEN Support and Education Health and Care Plans have replaced School Action, Action Plus and Statements. For more see our information on SEN and Disability Provision in Educational Settings in England.


In Wales, with the passing of the ALN and Education Tribunal Act by the Welsh Assembly on 24th January 2018, SEN will become Additional Learning Needs. When the new system is introduced in September 2020, ALN reforms will replace School Action, School Action Plus and Statements with Individual Development Plans (IDP) by 2023.

The Welsh government has released an animated film about the ALN Transformation programme in Wales.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the SEND Act was passed in 2016, leading to a new set of Special Educational Needs Regulations going through the Affirmative Resolution Process. A Step-by-Step approach is planned, using assessments, Statements and Individual Education Plans. The implementation of the new SEN Framework is expected by 2019.

Further information can be found by following the Northern Ireland government website and by downloading the SEN Parent Guide.

Alerts about SEN changes in England

To receive alerts when the government publishes or changes anything on GOV.UK for children with SEND, sign up here (Once you’ve signed up, you can set up the frequency of updates that you prefer.)

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