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Parents in Wales Still Getting a Raw Deal

View profile for Nathan Davies
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The specialist education law solicitors at HCB often hear very concerning stories from parents about misinformation that is provided by Local Authorities to parents as to their rights in obtaining additional support for their children with additional learning needs. A recent seminar held in West Wales amplified this worrying trend. Parents are often told:

  • We don’t provide Statements for anyone’
  • ‘Statements are being abolished’
  • ‘The assessment process costs too much - that cost could be spent on providing support for your child or others’
  • ‘A Statement of SEN is not required as they won’t get anymore support with that document’

No parent should regard this type of information as being accurate or legally compliant; it is unlawful and seeks to detract from their ability to pursue a Statement of SEN for their child.

Parents have the ability to write to the Local Authority at any point to make a statutory assessment request for their son or daughter if concerns are expressed regarding their progress (regardless of any diagnosis being obtained at that point). The Authorities, especially in Wales, will commonly seek to divert parents’ attention away from pursuing the same. They will often advise parents that further meetings will be held with the school and that their child will be discussed at Panel meetings; however this does not bring about a formal assessment unless this is requested by the parent or school itself.

Parents will often become embroiled in disputes with their child’s school due to a perceived lack of support being provided by them, although it is actually the Local Authority who are the body tasked with conducting a formal assessment to determine precisely what provision the child will require. The school may not be able to provide the required level of support if the child has complex difficulties which requires provision far and above what they can reasonably offer from their own resources; it is therefore incumbent on the Authority to determine the level of support needs for the child.

Without initiating the statutory assessment process, a Statement cannot be obtained. Local Authorities giving bad advice to parents is not only unhelpful but contrary to meeting the child’s needs. If you require any assistance in dealing with a current dispute with your Local Authority or preparing a statutory assessment request then please do not hesitate to call our specialist team today on 02920 291704.