Special Educational Needs

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A boy walks alone as he carries his backpack to school illustrating the importance of focusing on special educational needs after major trauma injuries

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After major trauma it is completely understandable that your child might experience some stress and difficulties. One of the best ways to benefit your child on their road to recovery or a return to active life following an injury, illness, or disability is to provide them with education and a return to routine.

There are many different challenges when your child returns to education as every child and young person is different, with specific needs and educational requirements. With our help you can set your child up with education services and local authority funding to fully meet their needs.

After suffering a complex injury the initial focus will be on medical help and the rehabilitation journey for your child. Once your child has stabilised it may be time to consider the options for education. This could mean:

  • A return to their old school or college with considerably enhanced support;
  • A new school or college, e.g., a special school or college;
  • Home education; or
  • A dual placement or bespoke package shared between home education/special school/mainstream school with added support.

What is an EHCP?

If your child requires additional support, therapies and specialist equipment they will need an Education Health and Care Plan (“EHCP”).

The EHCP is a legally binding document that can provide support from birth to 25 years. The plan sets out your child’s educational needs in detail and the support they require to meet identified needs under each of the following areas:

  • Cognition and learning;
  • Communication and interaction;
  • Sensory and physical;
  • Social, emotional and mental health.

The plan also sets out a placement which the local authority considers is able to meet your child’s needs. Once the plan is finalised, your home local authority has a duty to deliver educational provision set out in the plan. This includes all teaching assistant support be it 1 to 1 or 2 to 1 support and all therapies, e.g., occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, educational psychology. It can also include input from mental health specialists, nursing professionals and specialist IT, augmentative and alternative communication (“AAC”) and wheelchair professionals.

The named school or college must admit your child and the local authority must ensure all provision is delivered. This can include funding specialist support not normally available in your child’s school/college, specialist equipment and independent or non-maintained school/college fees. It can also include funding for all education at home should your child be unable to attend school/college. This is important for parents at a time where we are used to seeing cuts to statutory funding.

It is important to try and plan your child’s return to education as soon as matters settle. This is because it can take up to 20 weeks for the local authority to conduct assessments and issue the plan.  Either you as the child’s parents or their school/college SENCo can request an EHC needs assessment to start the process.

How does an EHC needs assessment work?

As part of the assessment you should share any medical and therapy reports with the local authority. The local authority is required to obtain information and evidence from the following as part of their assessment:

  • Parents;
  • The school;
  • Educational psychologist;
  • Therapists – speech and language, occupational, physiotherapists;
  • Teacher of the visually and/or hearing impaired, if appropriate;
  • Medical professionals, parents should share relevant reports and details of key medical professionals so they can be contacted;
  • Social care;
  • Other professionals who may be involved.

The local authority should also seek the views of the child or young person wherever possible.

Before the EHCP is finalised you as parents will be asked for your preference for placement. It is important that you visit different placements and consider your options before this point. The local authority is required to consider your preference alongside other available options and will finalise the plan. If you do not agree with the content of the plan, i.e., the level of support, specialist equipment or name of placement, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (“SEND”) tribunal. 

We can provide you with support through the EHC needs assessment, help you understand the support your child may be entitled to and assist with an appeal to the SEND tribunal.

What is The Children and Families Act (2014)?

The largest part of the Act deals with children and young people with special educational needs (“SEN”) and disabilities. The previous system was not deemed adequate in providing support for these vulnerable groups in particular and a new approach was implemented. The Act included the following provisions with the aim of providing families with greater say over the welfare of their children:

  • A new EHCP based on a single assessment process replaced Statements of Special Educational Needs. EHC plans are documents that set out support for children, young people and their families. Support can be provided from birth to 25 years provided the young person still requires education; under the older system support was only provided up to 19 years;
  • Extends the rights to request a personal budget for the support to children, young people and families which means families may be able to directly buy in the support identified in the EHCP;
  • Local services available to children and families must be made available in a clear, easy to read manner;
  • Local authorities must involve families and children in discussions and decisions relating to their care and education; and provide impartial advice, support and mediation services.

What happens if SEN services fail my child?

Living with SEN leads to many different challenges for your child and for your life. SEN services are excellent on the whole in the UK and are balanced to your child’s specific needs but, in cases where services fail it can leave you in a position where you are unsure of what to do next.

If you are a parent of a child with SEN or a young person with SEN, and you wish to challenge a decision or a service from your local authority, you need to know that you have an experienced legal service to support you. This can help you when:

  • A school or local authority is not recognising the needs of your child or young person;
  • There is difficulty in obtaining a diagnosis;
  • There has been disability discrimination;
  • You are having difficulty obtaining access to the appropriate support from schools or colleges;
  • A home education package is difficult to access when your child or young person cannot attend school;
  • It is challenging to secure suitable transport to and from school;
  • You want a change of school and the local authority does not agree;
  • You need statutory funding for independent school placements;
  • You need to obtain and challenge the contents of EHCPs.

With the right level of support and understanding of the Children and Families Act 2014 we are in a position to help you make the most of your child or young person’s educational needs.

Where can I go for more advice on my child’s special educational needs?

You want the best for your child and a large part of that is ensuring their continued progress and development through education. It can sometimes feel like the school or the local authority is working against you. If you are having difficulties, we can help.

If you would like our help with special educational needs advice please get in touch.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Special Educational Needs

As upsetting and daunting as it may seem at first we can help you come to an understanding of how broad the meaning of education actually is for the purposes of an EHCP. It includes training alongside more conventional education, covering activities such as assisting with self-care skills by training to lift limbs, communicating with augmentative and alternative communication devices, learning to communicate ‘yes’/ ‘no’, learning wheelchair skills etc. There is always a range of services to educate your child, our team can help you discover what your rights are and what education services and therapies could help your child.
In most cases your child will be limited to provision of services during school term time. Where it can be demonstrated that there is an educational need for therapies to continue during longer periods away from school such as summer holidays you can request for this to be inserted into your child’s EHCP. If agreed, the local authority is required to arrange it. If not agreed, you can appeal to the SEND tribunal.
It is important to understand where you stand with different services and physiotherapy is sometimes considered a health support rather than an education support. However, despite some professionals labelling it this way it is important to know that where therapies educate or train a child it must be considered education support and sit under that section of the plan. The local authority has no duty to deliver support under the health sections of the plan; it only has a duty to deliver support under the education sections.
If the EHCP agrees to education otherwise than in school, the local authority should provide all the educational support your child needs, as set out in the plan. You can speak to your local authority about providing a personal budget and direct payments if you would like to arrange support yourself. If the local authority disagrees, we can help you appeal the decision.
Before a local authority makes a final decision and puts it in place in the EHCP they must always consider and consult with your preference of school. This must include a consideration of costs and whether there are other placements in the area that can meet the needs of your child. Expect your local authority to name a school which they believe meets all the necessary criteria and needs of your child, that comes at the lowest cost. If you disagree with the choice you are entitled to seek legal advice before considering whether to lodge an appeal or not. We can help you work out the right approach at this stage in proceedings.
You may sometimes see your child referred to as CYP, Children and Young Person. A young person is an adult up to 25 years.
A boy walks alone as he carries his backpack to school illustrating the importance of focusing on special educational needs after major trauma injuries

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