Last updated: 26 Jan 2011SEN Units are designed for Students with Statements of Special Education Needs, who would benefit from specialist provision, yet have the opportunity to access main stream schools for part of their learning. They are attached to main stream schools, but provision across Kent and Medway is partly for historical reasons. The Kent Special Education Need Units each support children with one or more of the following disabilities: Autism; Hearing or Visual Impairment; Physical Disability; Speech & Language problems or Specific Learning Difficulties. Each is attached to a mainstream school so that children can integrate into normal lessons as appropriate, for some in preparation for a full transfer to mainstream school. A child will need an SEN statement naming the Unit if they are to be offered a place. If a child has a SEN Unit named in his statement, the Local Authority is required to arrange transport. An SEN Unit has a total capacity and can admit children in there are vacancies in the Unit as a whole, so there is not an intake figure for any particular age group. Most common age of admission is in Year 1 for Primary Units, after the child has been assessed in the Reception Year of a mainstream school.
In the summer of 2009, after a six year Review of SEN Units in Kent, KCC quietly published a policy stating explicitly that there would be no admissions to SEN Units in Gravesham, Dartford, Swanley, Ashford or Shepway for September 2010, and for the remainder of Kent from September 2011. This policy was actioned, although when I exposed it, KCC denied it had ever existed, although it remained on their website and field officers continued to advise parents that the policy was in place until Autumn 2010. I then initiated a media campaign to demonstrate the effects of this policy, and KCC finally decided in September 2010 to scrap the policy and carry out a fresh review of all specialist SEN provision. You will find several articles I wrote on the subject through the SEN Unit Review tag at the bottom of this article.
However the consequences of the aborted policy remain significant especially for Primary Units, with many SEN Units run down and some effectively closed through lack of children, as the data published here shows. During the debate KCC maintained that no children were misplaced by not being offered places in Units, in spite of the dramatic fall in placements. If this policy of discouraging placements in SEN Units continues, parents who believe their child is being disadvantaged by not being offered a place should be prepared to go to Tribunal to argue their case that the Unit should be named on their child's Statement.
You will find a summary of Individual Units here.I provide some of the historical background to this issue here.