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Special Educational Needs help in Bristol
Our special educational needs solicitors in Bristol have substantial experience in successfully helping parents and families to secure SEN support for their children and young people.
What are Special Educational Needs in Bristol?
Special educational needs are any difficulty a child or young person has in accessing education or facilities in school.
Special educational needs (SEN) affect how a person learns. The needs can affect, for example:
- Ability to communicate
- Reading , writing or number work
- Memory and processing speed
- Making friends or relating to adults
- Personal organisation
- Tasks or activities which depend on sensory or physical skills
If a child or young person has difficulties in accessing school, education, or facilities at school and requires support beyond that typically made for young people of the same age, they likely have special educational needs.
If you are not sure whether your child or young person has special educational needs, you should seek specific legal advice.
Bristol SEN teams operate under their own policies, but also must comply with the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice 2015. Bristol SEN policies can add criteria and thresholds that do not exist in the law. This can result in poor decision making.
Bristol’s SEN policies and guidance can be found here:
We would always advise parents to make sure that they focus on the Special Educational needs Code of Practice, rather than Bristol’s SEN policies only. The SEN Code of Practice can be found here:
What is SEN Support in Bristol?
Bristol’s special educational needs team have prepared a Local Offer. The Local Offer explains what support is available for special educational needs in Bristol. The Local Offer can be found here:
Normally, school will identify that a child or young person has special educational needs. When this happens, the class teacher and Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo), will plan additional support. This follows a cycle called “Assess, Plan, Do, Review”.
If the school does not identify a pupil with special educational needs, it may be necessary to seek an EHC needs assessment of their special educational needs from the local authority.
The child, young person and their parents should be involved in discussions with the school about planning support for special educational needs. It is important to be aware that schools receive a specific amount of money – a Delegated Budget – to support children and young people with special educational needs. As the Delegated Budget is limited, if substantial additional support is require, Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) should be secured.
If the child or young person needs more support than the school can provide, an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) may be needed. The school should discuss with the child, young person and their parents / guardian requesting an EHC needs assessment. It is very important to note that there is no requirement to try to cycle of Assess, Plan, Do, Review before seeking an EHC needs assessment or an Education Health and Care Plan.
How can I get an EHCP in Bristol?
The guidance for securing an EHC needs assessment and EHCP in Bristol can be found here:
This can be a helpful guide to know how to qualify for an EHCP in Bristol. However, it is important to know that the local authority must comply with legal duties, as well as operating its own policies.
Before an EHCP can be issued, the local authority must make an EHC needs assessment.
During the EHC needs assessment, the local authority secure advice from:
- school or early years setting
- an educational psychologist
- social care
- health professionals
- anyone else you ask them to contact who may be able to provide relevant information
In our experience, the local authority can often fail to advise you of the final point above. It is important to inform Bristol SEN team of the experts you wish to be involved in the EHC needs assessment at the start of the process.
At the conclusion of the EHC needs assessment, the local authority will decide whether an EHCP is necessary,
The term “necessary” has been the focus of much litigation. It means that the local authority must consider the subjective needs of the child or young person, the special educational provision that they need and whether it is reasonably likely that a mainstream school can deliver that support.
If the local authority refuses to make an EHCP, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
Where can I find SEN legal advice in Bristol?
Our specialist education law solicitors have experience of working across the country. We have helped many parents and young people in Bristol. We have provided expert education law advice in Bristol to secure special educational needs support for several children, young people and families.
Our special education needs solicitors provide advice in Bristol. To contact us, please call 02920 291 704.