- Alcester Office +44 (0)1789 765522
- Bedford Office +44 (0)1234 400000
- Birmingham, New St. Office +44 (0)121 270 5666
- Birmingham, Newhall St. Office +44 (0)121 703 2606
- Bristol Office +44 (0)1454 275 190
- Cardiff Office +44 (0)29 2240 8700
- Evesham Office +44 (0)1386 425300
- Gatwick Office +44 (0)1293 602890
- Harrow Office +44 (0)20 8907 4366
- Leicester Office +44 (0)116 255 9911
- Leigh Office +44 (0)1942 673311
- Lichfield Office +44 (0)1543 414426
- Luton Office +44 (0)1582 720175
- Northampton Office +44 (0)1604 233 200
- Redditch Office +44 (0)1527 406363
- Solihull Office +44 (0)121 705 2255
- Stopsley Office +44 (0)1582 453 366
- Sutton Coldfield Office +44 (0)121 355 6118
- Tunbridge Wells Office +44 (0)1892 553090
- Walkden Office +44 (0)161 790 1411
- Walsall Office +44 (0)1922 720000
- Warrington Office +44 (0)1925 632267
- Westhoughton Office +44 (0)1942 816515
- Whitefield Office +44 (0)161 796 7920
- Wigan Office +44 (0)1942 244294
Special Educational Needs help in Staffordshire
Our specialist education lawyers have secured special educational needs support for several children, young people and families in Staffordshire and have experience of working across England and Wales.
What are Special Educational Needs in Staffordshire?
The Children and Families Act 2014 defines special educational needs (SEN) as a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.
A child has special educational needs if she or he has a:
- Learning difficulty which is significantly greater than the majority of children of the same age
- Disability which makes it difficult to use the facilities normally available.
Special educational needs are described by the Special Education Needs Code of Practice as falling into four areas. These are:
- Communication and interaction
- Cognition and learning
- Behaviour, emotional and social development
- Sensory and/or physical.
A child likely has special educational needs if they struggle to access education or facilities at school, and requires support in relation to a learning difficulty or disability. You should seek legal advice if you are unsure as to whether your child or young person has SEN.
What is SEN support in Staffordshire?
Staffordshire’s special educational needs webpage can be found here:
You will also find below a link to the Local Offer prepared by Staffordshire’s educational needs team which explains the support available for children with SEN in Staffordshire:
In most cases, a school will identify that a child or young person has SEN and the class teacher will usually liaise with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) to arrange additional support for that child. This follows a cycle called ‘Assess, Plan, Do, Review’. This assistance will vary depending on the circumstances, but could include one-to-one or small group work, special learning materials and social skills exercises.
The child, young person and their parents/guardians must be involved in discussions with the school to arrange support for the child’s special educational needs at this stage.
It is also key to note that schools receive a Delegated Budget – a specific amount of money – to support children with SEN. Unfortunately, this budget is finite and will often limit the amount of support that a school are able to provide SEN children.
In some instances, you may need to seek an Education Health and Case needs assessment through the local authority with the view to obtaining an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). This will usually be required where the school does not identify that you child has SEN, or if the school does not have the resources to provide the support that your child or young person needs.
An EHCP is a legally binding document which sets out the needs of the child or young person. It will also state the provision the child or young person requires, and the educational placement they should attend. The document should be detailed and contain specific information about the support that should be delivered to the child or young person.
It is often the case that EHCP’s do not contain sufficient detail about the provision or support that is needed. Our specialist education law solicitors often assist parents/guardian’s of children and young people who are issued with these inadequate EHCP’s.
How can I get an EHCP in Staffordshire?
The local authority must carry out an EHC needs assessment to determine whether an EHCP is necessary before an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) can be issued. It is important to note that it is not necessary for you to try the cycle of ‘Assess, Plan, Do, Review’ before seeking an EHC needs assessment.
You can find guidance for securing an EHC needs assessment and EHCP in Staffordshire here:
Whilst this information can prove to be useful to understand how to qualify for an EHC needs assessment in Staffordshire, it is important to note that Staffordshire SEN teams must comply with the Children and Families Act 2014, and the SEND Code of Practice 2015, as well as their own local policies.
From our experience, we have seen that the local authority’s policies tend to overly simplify the law and confuse quite complex rules; leading to poor decision making. Often, the local authority’s internal criteria for carrying out an EHC needs assessment do not reflect the legal criteria, and will be rigidly applied without fully considering the child’s needs and circumstance. It is crucial, therefore, that when making a request for an EHC needs assessment, that your request applies the law correctly.
We would also advise that parents focus on the SEND Code of Practice, rather than Staffordshire’s SEN policies only. The SEND Code of Practice can be found here:
A child’s parents, guardians or school can request and EHC needs assessment. A young person, aged between 16 and 25, can make a request for an EHC needs assessment themselves in Staffordshire.
The local authority may refuse to make an EHC needs assessment, however they must conduct an EHC needs assessment if a child or young person may have SEN and they need the support of an EHCP. They have six weeks from the date they receive the request to decide whether to make the assessment.
If the local authority refuse to carry out an EHC needs assessment, it is possible to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST), however this can be difficult and it can be useful to take specialist legal advice about a SENDIST appeal.
If the local authority decides to undertake an EHC needs assessment, the local authority will determine 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 and deliver that support.
If the local authority refuses to issue an EHCP, you can appeal to the SENDIST.
The local authority may also make further decisions you do not agree with. These can include:
- The content of an EHCP in Staffordshire
- The school named in the EHCP in Staffordshire
- Changes made to an EHCP following an Annual Review in Staffordshire
- A refusal to make a change to an EHCP following an Annual Review in Staffordshire
- A refusal to maintain an EHCP in Staffordshire
Each of these decisions can be challenged by the SENDIST.
Where can I find SEN legal advice in Staffordshire?
If you have any questions about securing an EHCP in Staffordshire, are having difficulties securing one, or are facing any of the difficulties listed above, our specialist education law solicitors (SEN Solicitors) are here to help.