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SENTW User Group Meeting

The Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales (SENTW) recently held a User Group Meeting to summarise the challenges they have faced in the past year 2017/2018 and to also provide all individuals involved in the Tribunal process with an opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the new Additional Learning Needs (ALN) transformation programme that is due to go live in September 2020.

The new ALN Bill was passed by the National Assembly for Wales on 12 December 2017 and became an Act on 24 January 2018 after receiving Royal Assent. The implementation of this new legislation not only replaces a 30 year old system but replaces the system of Statements of Special Educational Needs all together. By 2023, everyone who currently has a Statement will have Individual Developmental Plans (IDPs). 

The introduction of new legislation inevitably comes with many concerns and criticisms and many of which were raised at the meeting. Concerns were raised by Local Authorities and parents and these concerns related to a lack of training within schools on the new law, confusion regarding the role of the ALNCo, and whether the new Act will provide more clarity and consistency regarding the format and process of obtaining an IDP.

One of the biggest issues raised was in relation to the lack of guidance with social care. Health will be monitored by a designated education communication lead officer, yet there is no confirmation regarding social care and how this will be considered. Many concerns were raised regarding the structure of the new ALN Act.

Nevertheless, despite extremely justifiable concerns from Local Authorities and parents, the new ALN Bill has been introduced in order to create a much simpler and less adversarial system by providing clear and consistent rights of appeal. The aim of the reform is to help better protect and support the rights of children with ALN as much as possible and hopefully this will be successful. 

An extremely informative part of the meeting related to the yearly statistics of the SENTW. In 2017-2018 the SENTW received 125 SEN appeals, to which 118 were registered. 46 appeals concerned refusal to assess and 19 were refusal to issue a statement. The Tribunal received only 2 appeals in relation to refusal to re-assess and only 1 appeal for ceasing to maintain a Statement. 

The outcomes of the appeals are as follow: 16 appeals were upheld in full, 24 were withdrawn, 6 appeals were withdrawn by consent and 36 are still pending outcome. Statistics from previous years show that appeals to the SENTW have risen each year for the past five years and at last years User Group meeting, they confirmed that they received a total of 153 SEN appeals. Therefore, the year  2017/18 statistics clearly show a decrease in figures. 
So far this year, from September 2018 the SENTW has received 19 appeals and 39 have been carried over from the previous year.
At HCB Solicitors we are specialists in education law and thus, we have expert knowledge on appealing to the Tribunal. We understand the importance of the process and how to best put forth your appeal. Our expert education lawyers have many years of experience and have been successful at Tribunals on many occasions.  
If you have questions or concerns about your appeal, contact our specialist team of education Solicitors on 02920 291 704. 

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