There may be times when you need to refer to the law relating to children and young people with special educational needs (“SEN”) and or disabilities. The law has developed in two ways.
Statute, regulations and guidance are written and approved by Parliament. They set out the duties on local authorities (“LAs”), schools and other public bodies. If you want to refer to a specific duty, you may want to find it in the law. Statute and regulations must be complied with, and statutory guidance should be complied with unless the LA or school has a very good reason for not doing so. (It will often make sense to start with the guidance as it is generally easier to read than the law.)
Case law is developed by the tribunals and courts. It is important for clarifying points of the law which are unclear. When a case is heard by one of the higher tribunals or courts, they will give a judgement which explains how they consider the law applies and will often give more detail about what exactly a local authority has to do to meet their legal obligations. Such judgements are binding on LAs as well as lower tribunals. Case law can be very helpful for finding examples of what LAs should and should not do.
LAs, schools and health authorities must comply with the law, whether it is statute law or case law. Any policies or practices which are inconsistent with this should be challenged. See the section on what your LA should do to help for more information. Schools are required to use their “best endeavours” to support children and young people with SEN and disabilities. See the section on how your school should help for more information.
Further information on, and links to, SEN and disability statute law, regulations and guidance
‘Case law’ is the law which is developed by the Courts and Tribunal system