10 common local authority quotes in SEN that require correcting

10 Common but disappointing local authority quotes that fuel scepticism and anger. (By Michael Charles Solicitor)
A. “We do not have to consider your private independent reports.”
Answer. Yes they do. Independent is surely the relevant word. Independence means just that. Not self serving or constrained from making recommendations due to budget.
B. “Your child is too bright to have a statement/EHCP.
Answer. Wrong again. A child is entitled to support if they have a learning disability that calls for special educational provision to be made. Bright children may still have a disability requiring specific support.
C. “We will not consider placing a child at independent school”.
Answer. Yes it should if state provision cannot either meet needs or cannot do so efficiently.
D.” It is for the school to deliver the appropriate support and fund the extra help. It has a devolved budget” .
Answer. A school does have to use best endeavours to meet needs but a local authority is bound to comply with statement or EHCP by law. It is also obliged to adequately fund the provision.
E. “We will not be able to allow your lawyer to the meeting.”
Answer. Why not? Is this code for “we want to do things wrong and hope nobody finds out?” or “we are entitled to lawyers to help us but as a parent you should be expected to do as we say?”
F. “We will never fund ABA” .
Answer. That may be what you intend but such a statement is not lawful or reflective of the statutory duty.
G. “We will not implement the therapy recommendations in your report because we need to await NHS advice.”
Answer. All therapists have same professional obligations. This is not an answer to not appropriately respecting professional recommendations for the benefit of a child.
H.” One to one support is unhelpful as it compromises independence. ”
Answer. This might be partially true sometimes, but if it is needed and often in special needs cases it is required for various reasons it should be provided. It is the skill in delivery which is the key. . If used correctly and appropriately it can be very beneficial. Education is all about building skills to ultimately be independent. If one needs a little more help along he way then one is entitled to it. One to one however is not a substitute for good professional and sometimes specialist teaching. It is there to reinforce and support teaching not a substitute for it.
I. “Please relay your questions to us not to the school?
Answer. Why not? The school is at the front line and better placed to help and play important part. Evidence gathering should be transparent. Transparency resolves and reduces conflict.
J.” If you appeal the plan or statement the local authority will obtain its own reports.”
Answer. Surely it shalll have obtained all the necessary reports as part of its assessment. It is duty bound to prepare a proper up to date plan. Quality plans or statements of Sen should not depend on whether a family appeals. What happened to the idea of doing a job properly from the start?
A sad fact emerges. Over the years in which I have dealt with these cases. Rarely if ever have I seen a statement of Sen or EHCP that is legally worth the paper it is written on, without it having been the product of legal dispute and intervention.

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