Special Educational Needs.
If you are reading this it is possible that you are the parent, or grandparent, of a child with special educational needs. Children with disabilities, dependent upon their condition and severity, may require a Statement of Special Educational Needs. The purpose of which is to set out the child's needs and then their entitlements to meet those needs. The process of obtaining a statement can be difficult, and all too often require legal advice. SEN law and SEN legal advice is suppose to be simple as it is meant to be about "meeting needs" - Unfortunately it's not as simple as it should be and often getting the right advice early can make a big difference.
More often than not a local authority may not wish to make a statement, or will make a statement that doesn't provide sufficient detail to then specify the entailments to meet the child's needs. Statements can often be refused, or when offered so vague so that they can not be enforced by way of judicial review. It's often hard enough getting a statement, but then to get one which doesn't meet the child's needs can simply end up causing frustration.
As local authorities are faced with ever tighter budgets and further cuts on the way it's often the case that whilst the local authority will want to do what is right, they simply won't have the funds. Most, if not all the LEA SEN managers are good hard working decent people. However, they, like you and I, are being asked to cut cost. They are simply doing their job, and there simply isn't enough money to meet everyone's needs.
Whilst the LEA does their job you as a parent, or grandparent, are faced with the dilemma. Accept the refusal to assess, or accept the statement that does not meet needs, or appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal Service? It's really as simple as that.
Whilst I recommend all parents to negotiate with their LEA about their child's statement, I can't help but feel that if an impasse is reached, the appeals procedure is the only real recourse to resolving such a stalemate. Appeals can take up to 6 months to be heard from the date of submitting the appeal, and whilst this might seem a long time it can often end up being quicker than the endless negotiations with the LEA. Having an appeal lodged does not prevent you from negotiating. Quite the contrary. From experience I have found that once an appeal has been lodged both sides are mindful that a Judge and Panel will want to see evidence of REAL negotiations. The hearing date, although 6 months down the road really does focus minds.
So, whilst I don't recommend tribunal as a matter of course, I do accept that for some parents, with difficult cases, it maybe the only avenue to resolve the matter. If you are the parent, or grandparent, of a child with SEN then please do get in touch for free SEN legal advice. Whilst I am not a lawyer I have trained with a national charity that provides tribunal support. I have represented parents at tribunals, and have been through the process for my own daughter, twice!
I am here to provide parents with advice not only on Special Educational Needs but also on Community Care. Where parents are struggling with more than one child, it can be difficult to cope without support. In this respect i can offer advice on how to go about requesting Community Care from social services, be that a CORE assessment and / or a carers assessment. Whilst the educational needs are key, having respite and social care is equally important.