IPSEA welcomes the report published today by the LGSCO on the common issues seen in its first 100 investigations into complaints about Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.
EHC plans, which were introduced in September 2014 under the Children and Families Act, are intended to provide a more holistic approach to supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). However, the reality on the ground is very different and this is reflected in many of the complaints made to the LGSCO, which demonstrate a lack of joined-up working between education, health and social care.
For the parents of children that IPSEA supports, the issues identified in the report are widespread and commonplace. Delays to the assessment process and failure to comply with statutory timescales remain an overriding feature, often leaving children and young people without a suitable education, and denying parents and carers a right of appeal to the SEND Tribunal. We also see significant variations in the quality of reports gathered during the assessment process, and repeated failures to undertake lawful transfer reviews for those children and young people moving from Statements of SEN to EHC plans.
Ali Fiddy, Chief Executive of IPSEA, said: “We are disappointed by the findings of this report, although not surprised. The themes identified by the LGSCO strongly align with the experiences of the parents and carers who access our advice services. We are troubled by the numbers of parents and carers finding it necessary to take their complaints to the LGSCO whilst caring for a child with SEND and trying to navigate a complex system to secure educational support. We hope that local authorities will take heed and recognise the risks associated with failing to comply with the legal requirements of the Children and Families Act 2014.”
IPSEA supports the Ombudsman’s best practice guidance for local authorities to address the concerns identified in the report. As providers of SEND law training to parents, local authorities and other organisations, IPSEA is acutely aware of the need to ensure all those involved in the SEND decision-making process have a proper understanding of the legal framework within which such decisions have to be made.
The LGO report can be found here: http://www.lgo.org.uk/information-centre/news/2017/oct/a-disproportionate-burden-families-struggling-with-new-special-educational-needs-system-when-councils-get-it-wrong
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