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Parents concerned over Special Education Needs provision

View profile for Mike Pemberton
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A recent Wales ITV investigation which was aired during Wales This Week on the 17th March 2014 reflected concerns of parents that the provision of Special Educational Needs to children was no better than it had been back in the 1980s.

ITV made a Freedom of Information request to the 22 Local Authorities in Wales and 13 replied. There was surprise to learn that there were inconsistencies in the data provided by the respondents with regards to the terms used, basis of data collection and what was provided to children with identified Special Educational Needs. Parents were frustrated at how long the current assessment process takes in respect of the statement of Special Educational Needs and the Welsh Government has acknowledged the need for reform.

In England, new provisions are due to be made in September 2014 in respect of educational and healthcare plans. Many local authorities are currently providing pilot programmes in respect of the new education healthcare plans but there are severe limitations. For example, there is no right to appeal under the pilot programme. Parents should therefore be aware of the potential difficulties in respect of the pilot programmes and seek legal advice where necessary.

A number of local authorities are also using diversion schemes where provision is provided on a discretionary basis but again there is no statutory protection or rights involved in such an approach. Whilst it may be helpful to have discretionary provision, the fact is that if this is not enough there is no right to have the level reviewed.

The identification of Special Educational Needs and provision of adequate support for pupils is a crucial part of the educational system.

Our Education Team have experience on advising on the need for an assessment of Special Educational Needs, individual education plans concerning additional needs and disputes . They can be contacted on 0333 344 4772.

By Mike Pemberton, Partner and Head of Civil Liberties & Public Law