An important part of IPSEA’s governing objectives is our policy work. We respond to consultations connected to the law around special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), as well as assessing and evaluating issues brought to our attention by volunteers and parents. 

Interventions by our legal team can include corresponding with local authorities regarding potentially illegal policies and inaccurate guidance, and we have also sent letters before action to local authorities pursuant to the pre-action protocol for judicial review. IPSEA’s legal team can also support applications for judicial review or Upper Tribunal cases where there is a wider public interest.

We develop and maintain working relationships with key government departments, ensuring that all legislation and guidance on SEND and related matters has had significant input from IPSEA. The policy and special interest groups that we are members of include:

Examples of our policy work

We can’t always publicise our policy work, but some recent examples of successful interventions are below: 

  • We threatened judicial review against a local authority when they unreasonably refused to provide home-to-school transport for a disabled child. The child was getting to school by bus, but his medical condition had worsened over recent years and he now found the bus journey so exhausting that he was often sick by the time he got to school. The local authority said that the boy should move to attend a school closer to his home, even though he was attending the nearest school which was wheelchair accessible. After the threat of legal action, the LA reversed their decision and agreed to provide a taxi to transport him to school. 
  • A local authority had issued guidance to schools suggesting that it was acceptable to place a child on a ‘part-time timetable’ to deal with challenging behaviour. This is not lawful, and would in fact amount to an informal exclusion from school. It feeds into a culture where children with SEN are 6 times more likely to be excluded from school than their non-SEN peers. IPSEA challenged the legality of this guidance, and after correspondence with our legal team, the local authority withdrew the guidance and acknowledged it had not been a correct reflection of the law. 
  • For children or young people with SEN to access support through an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, they must first undergo an EHC needs assessment. One local authority had put in place a policy imposing criteria for qualifying for an EHC needs assessment which were far above those set out in the law, meaning that children and young people legitimately entitled to such an assessment were being denied it. Following correspondence with IPSEA’s legal team, the unlawful policy was withdrawn.