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Statement of Special Educational Needs (Part 2)

SEN Code of Practise 2001 Statements

If you haven't already done so please read Part one of these fact sheets more information on this subject.

Naming a School

Schedule 27 of the Education Act 1996 states:
Parents may express a preference for the maintained school (but not a PRU or hospital school) they wish their child to attend, or make representations for a placement in ant other school. LEAs must comply with a parental preference unless the school is unsuitable to the Childs age, ability, aptitude or special educational needs, or the placement would be incompatible with the efficient education of the other children with whom the child would be educated, or with the efficient use of resources. LEAs must consider parental representations and arrange any meeting(s) with LEA advisers or officers the parents seek, before issuing the final statement.

Section 316 of the Education Act 1996 states:

Unless a parent indicates that they do not want their child educated in a mainstream school (whether by expressing a preference or making a representation for a particular school or otherwise) an LEA must ensure that a child is educated in a mainstream school unless that is incompatible with the efficient education of other children.

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If an LEA believes that the education of a child in mainstream would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, they must consider whether there are any reasonable steps they could take to prevent the child's inclusion having that effect. If they decide a particular mainstream school might be able to meet the Special Educational Provision specified in the statement, the school can argue against a place on the grounds that the child's education would be incompatible with the efficient education of others. The must also consider whether there are any reasonable steps they (or the LEA) could take to prevent from inclusion having that effect.

Parents can express a preference for any maintained school or make representations for a placement in any other school. LEAs must comply with parent's preferences in accordance with Schedule 27. They must consider parents representations and arrange any meetings with LEA officers or advisors seek before issuing the final statement. If parents are considering a school or institution that is not maintained, LEAs must establish that it can make the Special Educational Provision needed to meet the child's needs and provisions of Section 9 of the Education Act 1996 which is:

They must have regard to the parent's wishes, so far as that is compatible with the efficient instruction and training of the child and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure.

The LEA must explain the arrangements for expressing a preference to the parents and their duty to comply with that preference in all but a few cases. Schedule 27 also gives the parents the right to make representations about the content of the statement and the right to request meetings to discuss any aspect of the proposed statement. Parents should also be told about Parent Partnership Services and the availability of the Disagreement Resolution Services.

Where an LEA proposes to issue a statement or amend Part 4 of an existing one, they must name the school that is preferred by the parent providing:

" The school is suitable for the child's age, ability, aptitude and the special needs set out in Part 2.
" The child's attendance is not incompatible with the efficient education of others in the school, and
" The placement is an efficient use of the LEAs resources.

The LEA must consult the school preferred by the parent and if the school is in another Local Authority area, then that LEA too. They must provide either a copy of the proposed statement and appendices or if they are amending a statement a copy of the proposed new amended statement and the existing one with appendices.

When a parents choice of school cannot be met the LEA, should identify a mainstream school and consult them and as above all copies of proposed statement etc sent to them. However, the LEA must name that school unless it is incompatible and there are no reasonable steps that they can take to prevent the incompatibility.

The LEA should consider very carefully a preference made for denominational schools and representations for denominational non-maintained special or independent schools. Denominational considerations cannot override the requirements of Section 316 of the Education Act 1996.

Parents may express a preference for a maintained special school, if they do, the LEA no longer have a duty under section 316A to secure a mainstream education for the child. The LEA must comply with the parental preference for a particular maintained special school so long as the conditions in schedule 27 apply.

The LEA should inform parents that all maintained schools must publish information on their policies on Special Educational Needs.

When LEAs send out the proposed statement they must tell the parents of their rights to make a representation to the LEA in favour of a non-maintained school if they wish and they should do this within 15 days of receiving the proposed statement. If the LEA doesn't agree with this representation they should inform the parents before naming any other school in the final statement, parents will then have the opportunity to give their preferred maintained school if they want to.

Residential Placements

If it's agreed that a residential school should be named the LEA and parents should agree arrangements for the child's contact with their family and for any special help, such as transport which may be needed to maintain home/school contact. If the child is placed in a residential school with the intention that it will be longer than 3 months the LEA must inform either the social services department where the family lives or the department in the area of the school or both. Social Services will as far is as practicable and consistent with the child's welfare; try to secure a residential placement near the child's home. Where the social services department make an emergency placement out of their own budget for a child with a statement, they should immediately inform the LEA.

Generally LEAs are likely to consider that there is a need for Residential provision where there is a multi-agency agreement that:-

" The child has severe or multiple SEN that cannot be met in local day provision
" The child has severe or multiple SEN that requires a consistent programme both during and after school hours that cannot be provided by parents with support from other agencies
" The child is looked after by the local authority and has complex social and learning needs, and placement is jointly funded with the social services department.
" The child has complex medical needs as well as learning needs that cannot be managed in local day provision and the placement is joint-funded with the health authority.

Again if the LEA decide not to name the parents first choice in the final statement, it should be explained to them about their right to appeal, time limits, parent partnership and the disagreement resolution service.

Visits by parents to the proposed school by the LEA, with an opportunity to discuss their child's needs with the Head Teacher, Senco or any other specialist staff may be helpful. Parents concerns and disappointments should be taken seriously and every effort made to provide any additional information, advice or further visits to help them reach an informed decision about their child's future.

Consultation before naming a maintained school

The LEA must consult the governing body of a school before naming it in the statement. If the school is under another authority they must also consult with them. They should expect them to respond within 15 working days unless a school holiday of longer than 2 weeks falls into this timescale. When the consultation is the result of a parent's preference for a particular school, the LEA should consider any concerns the governing body may have about meeting the child's needs or the child's impact on the education of others, or the efficient use of resources. However the final decision whether to name the school falls to the LEA.

Another thing for the LEA to take into consideration is whether the admission of the child into a maintained mainstream school would take the school over the numbers fixed for intended admissions for the year, in other words if the school is already full. (They must comply with the class size legislation in infant classes).

Transport Costs

The parents preferred school may be further away than another school that can meet the child's SEN. In this case, it might be open to the LEA to name the nearer school if it's compatible with the use of its resources. It would also be open for them to name the parents choice of school on condition the parents agree to meet all transport costs.

The School named must be compatible with the child's SEN, therefore the LEA should not make known to the public general transport policies that seek to limit the schools which parents may express a preference if free transport is provided.

Transport should only be recorded in the statement in Part 6 in exceptional cases where the child has particular needs. In most cases the LEA has clear general policies relating to transport that should be made available to parents. Where the LEA names a residential provision some distance from parent's home, and local authority, the LEA should provide transport or travel assistance; the latter might be re-imbursement of public transport, petrol costs or a travel pass.

Education otherwise than at School

Children with statements may be educated otherwise than at school because:

" The LEA has made arrangements
" Parents have made suitable arrangements of their own.

Section 319 of the Education Act 1996 enables the LEA to arrange for some or all of the child's educational provision to be made this way. These would include in pupil referral units or home tuition.

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 recognises parent's right s to educate their child at home. In these cases if the child has a statement, it remains the LEAs duty to ensure the child's needs are met. The statement must remain in force and the LEA must ensure parents can make suitable provision for the child's SEN needs. If the parents arrangements are suitable the LEA are relieved of their duty to arrange provision in the statement, however if the parents attempts to home educate and the results fall short of meeting child's needs, the LEA cannot absolve their responsibility. However if the LEA is satisfied it still remains their duty to maintain the statement and review it annually.

Education at the parent's expense

Parents may choose to place a child with a statement in an independent school or a non-maintained special school at their own expense. The LEA need to be satisfied that the school is able to meet the special educational provision the child needs, before they are relieved of their duty to arrange provision in an appropriate school. The LEA are not required to name the school in Part $ of the statement if they are satisfied the parents have made suitable arrangements, but they must state the type of provision. It is still their duty to maintain and review the statement annually.

Parental representations about the proposed statement

The LEA should use the Notice to parents (according to regulations of 2001), informing them that:

" They may within 15 days make representations to the LEA, and require that a meeting be arranged with an officer of the LEA to discuss the contents of the statement.
" Within 15 days of the meeting, the parents may make further representations or, if they disagree with any part of the assessment, require further meetings with appropriate people within the LEA
" Within a final 15 days from the last meeting parents can make further comments to the LEA.

Every effort should be made to ensure the parents are happy with the proposed statement and that they understand it. Similar effort should be made, as far as possible, to ensure the child's views are reflected in the statement and the child understands the reasons for the proposals. LEA officers should give time and information in order for the parents to discuss their concerns with the named LEA officer. Some parents find the assessment very stressful and need additional personal support, friends, relatives or members of parent partnership are allowed to accompany them.

The Final Statement

The LEA must send a copy of the final Statement to the parents with written notice of their right to appeal, availability of parent partnership and the disagreement resolution services. Parents may appeal against the child's description of SEN, the special educational provision and the school named.

Once all changes are made and agreed with by the LEA and parents the final statement should be issued immediately. LEAs must arrange the special educational provision from the date on which the statement is made.

If after discussions the parents are unwilling to accept any changes made to the proposed statement or the LEA refuses any changes suggested by the parents, they may still proceed to issue the final statement. Again they must inform the parents of the right to appeal.

by Trace from adders.org

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