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Special Educational Needs Code of Practice 2002
This new Act strengthens the right to a place in mainstream school for
children with special educational needs and makes discrimination in schools
and colleges unlawful.
What does the new Act mean for children with a learning disability?
When parents want a mainstream school for their child this has to be
arranged except when it affects the "efficient education" of other children at
the school. When parents want a special school for their son or daughter they
still have the right to state that preference.
These new rights do not mean that every child will be able to go the school of
their choice. All parents are able to state their choices of school but do not
automatically get their first choice. The Act does mean that all schools have to
look at what changes they could make in order to include a child with a
What does the Act mean for schools?
Schools will have to make significant changes to the training of staff and to
the curriculum and to plan positively to include a wider range of pupils
including children with all types of learning disability. All schools have to
develop an accessibility plan by April 2003.There is extra funding for schools
to help them do this and OFSETD will monitor their progress.
Schools will not be able to refuse a place to a child with a learning disability
unless they can prove that the education of other children would be adversely
affected. It will become unlawful for schools to discriminate against pupils with
a learning disability.
What help is there for parents in understanding these changes?
Under the new Act, all Local Education Authorities have to provide information
and advice to parents of children with special educational needs. This
information and advice is available through the Parent Partnership Service
and you local council office would be able to give you contact details. If you
want additional help the Parent Partnership Service will be able to put you in
touch with a trained Independent Parental Supporter.
I have heard about Statements, what are these?
Children have different types of learning disabilities and generally schools are
able to provide some extra help in the classroom to support the child's
learning. Some children need significantly more support, and for these
children a Statement of Special Needs is written by the Local Education
Authority. This follows a full assessment, involving you, professionals and
whenever possible your child. The Statement describes your child's special
educational needs and what will be provided to meet these needs. Statements
are reviewed with you every year and can be changed as your child's needs
change over time.
What happens if I don't agree with the school or the Education
In the first place you can contact your local Parent Partnership Service and
discuss your concerns. From January 2002 all Education Authorities have to
provide a disagreement resolution (mediation) service to help you and the
school or education authority reach an acceptable agreement. This mediation
service is independent of the Education Department and you can find out
about this through the Parent Partnership Service or your child's school.
If you are not able to reach agreement you can appeal against certain
decisions to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
Who makes sure all this happens?
o School governors have a duty to make sure that their school is planning to
include all pupils and making the necessary changes. All schools have to
produce a written special educational needs policy.
o Local Education Authorities have duties to complete and review
Statements within clear timescales. The new Act means that they also
have to monitor admissions of children with special educational needs and
remind schools what they are expected to provide from their own budgets.
o OFSTED inspect schools and education authorities regularly and have to
report on how special education is being provided.
o The decisions of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal
now have to be carried out by schools and education authorities within
clear time limits.
o The Secretary of State can instruct schools or education authorities to
change their plans if they fail to stop discrimination.
© adders.org 2004
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