Parents across the country are struggling to find suitable specialist placements for their children with special educational needs in their immediate localities. This has meant that the process of identifying a suitable placement has become increasingly stressful. Various factors need to be considered when considering placements for children with SEN such as the type of need that the school caters for, teaching expertise, access to therapies and suitable peer groups.
As a result of a lack of specialist provision, parents are often having to look further afield to ensure their children are placed at an educational setting that can meet their needs. This can be a difficult decision to make for parents as children may need to attend boarding/residential placements due to the distance. This is compounded by councils challenging parent’s selection of placements due to cost concerns. Parents are then forced to lodge appeals with the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
Education, Health and Care plans were brought in by the Children and Families Act in 2014 with the aim of adopting a cohesive and holistic approach in the best interests of the child. Unfortunately, the aim has not been achieved to the extent needed resulting in parents having to continually fight.
Our Education team deals with many Tribunal appeals on behalf of parents and will always attempt to reach a resolution as early as possible to minimise the stress and worry parents face. An early resolution has to be in the best interests of all parties and could go some way in helping to achieve the cohesiveness originally aimed for by the Children and Families Act.
"We were fighting against each other, but if we were all able to work together more effectively we would have got to the same place but probably with a lot less stress and worry," she said. The shortage of specialist places in Devon meant he had to go to school in Surrey, boarding there during the week, she said.