Forgotten children - Education Committee Report
Erin Smart | 25.07.2018
04.12.2017 Erin Smart
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA) has published a report on Autism in England.
Some of the key findings were as follows:
70% of parents say support was not put in quickly enough for their child;
42% of parents say their child was refused an assessment of their SEN the 1st time it was requested; and
40 % of parents say that their child’s school place does not fully meet their needs.
These findings are of real concern, although, unfortunately, for those working in this area of law, not surprising. A number of parents face delays in getting the right support for their child, not only due to refusal of assessments under the Children and Families Act 2014, but also due to a lack of understanding in respect of the support needed for these pupils.
As autism is a spectrum, some pupils do not display obvious difficulties, masking these in the educational setting or acting out due to frustration and lack of understanding. As in previous articles, pupils who are not obviously struggling often miss out on support as they are not identified and parents then often have to fight to get the appropriate support. This can include, for example appealing to the SEN Tribunal. Those parents that are unaware of their legal and appeal rights are often left with no support for their child and this can lead to a “pathway of failure” as identified by the report.
The threshold to determine whether a child requires an assessment under the Children and Families Act 2014 is if the child has or may have special educational needs and may require special educational provision (i.e. support that is above the level provided generally in mainstream schools).
The recommendations, if adopted, should offer some real change and support for parents who often battle their Local Authority to even begin the process by which to support their child, namely the Education Health and Care Assessment process. Importantly, the report suggest that there should be a presumption that a child with an autism diagnosis may need an assessment and this should be carried out when it is requested. This would mean that parents should be able to receive the support of their Local Authority at the point of requesting an assessment under the Children and Families Act 2014. Further, schools should be empowered in the knowledge that their requests, which often take time and resources to compile, will be actioned.
Other recommendations include transparency in how Local Authorities and schools are adhering to the Children and Families Act 2014; a review of funding to available to implement the Children and Families Act; Ofsted monitoring of the implementation; permanent SEND inspection programmes; and training for Local Authority staff and school staff on the act.
The report deals with a lot of issues faced by many families and concludes that by ensuring full implementation of the Children and Families Act 2014, many of these could be addressed. You can view the complete report here.