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Special Educational Needs help in Somerset
Our education lawyers have helped many parents and young people across Somerset and we have provided expert advice to secure special educational needs (SEN) support for children, young people and families not only in Somerset, but also across the country. We frequently work with a number of schools in the Somerset area including Shapwick School who provide high quality teaching to children and young people with dyslexia and associated special educational needs such as dyspraxia and dyscalculia.
What are Special Educational Needs in Somerset?
The Children and Families Act 2014 defines special educational needs as a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.
Where a child or young person has any difficulty in accessing education, and it is affecting how they are learning, they have SEN. This not only covers difficulties with reading, writing etc, but also includes concentration levels, behaviour and social skills for example. It is also likely that the child or young person has SEN where they require support beyond that typically made for young people of the same age.
If you are not sure whether your child or young person has special educational needs, you should seek specific legal advice.
Whilst all local authorities must comply with the Children and Families Act 2014, and the SEND Code of Practice 2015, most local authorities, including Somerset, operate under their own SEN policies. These policies, however, will usually over simplify the law and confuse quire complex rules and often lead to poor decision making. This is often why parents in Somerset seek SEN advice from us.
You can find the SEND Code of Practice here:
What is SEN Support in Somerset?
Somerset’s SEN policies and guidance can be found here:
You can also find here details of the Local Offer that Somerset’s special educational needs team has prepared. This explains what support is available for special educational needs in Somerset.
A child’s school will usually identify where a child has SEN and, in this scenario, the Special Educations Needs Coordinator (SENCo) within the school should plan additional support for the child. This follows a cycle called “Assess, Plan, Do, Review”.
The child, young person and their parents/guardians should liaise with the school regarding planned support for the child’s SEN. Schools receive a delegated budget to support children and young people with special educational needs, however this is finite and will often limit the support that can be available unless the local authority makes an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
In some instances, however, the school do not identify that a pupil has SEN and in this case it is necessary to request and EHC needs assessment of the child’s special educational needs from the local authority. It is also recommended that you seek an EHCP where the child or young person needs more support than the school can provide. It is important to note that there is not requirement to try the ‘Assess, Plan, Do, Review’ cycle before seeking an EHC needs assessment.
How can I get an EHCP in Somerset?
The guidance for securing an EHC needs assessment and EHCP in Somerset can be found here:
Whilst this guide is useful to explain how to qualify for an EHCP in Somerset, it is important to note that the local authority also has legal duties they must comply with.
Before the local authority will issue an EHCP, they must complete an EHC needs assessment. If the local authority determines that it is necessary for an EHCP to be implemented, one will be issued.
The definition of the term ‘necessary’ has been the focus of much litigation. The local authority must take into consideration the special educational provision that they require, and whether a mainstream school can provide adequate support.
If the local authority does not feel that an EHCP is necessary, and refuse to issue one, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
Where can I find SEN legal advice in Somerset?
If you need advice from our specialist SEN solicitors about any of the issues discussed above, please contact us on 02920 291 704.