Crisis in special educational needs drives parents to court

Jun 24, 2019 by

Number of families appealing against funding decisions surges by 26% as schools and councils struggle to meet cost of provision

A funding shortfall for children with special educational needs has led to a surge in court appeals, as families turn to legal action to secure extra help from cash-strapped councils.

With a 26% rise in the last financial year in the number of court appeals by families, MPs are warning of a crisis in special needs care. It is the third successive year that an increase has been recorded. The total of 6,374 appeals lodged in 2018-19 was almost double the number of three years earlier, according to analysis by the Special Needs Jungle website.

The increase in legal action comes amid what insiders describe as a perfect storm hitting provision for special educational needs and disabilities (Send). Schools are struggling to meet the extra costs. That is heaping further pressure on councils, which have a legal obligation to provide care for children that require it. That in turn has led more families to the courts to fight for resources for their children.

A backlog of cases is growing, and more judges are being recruited to deal with the workload. And after almost a decade of funding cuts to local authorities, families are now challenging the government at the high court over its funding for Send.

Louise Haigh, the Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley, said last week that she was being “inundated” with inquiries from parents.

Gillian Doherty, founder of the parents’ campaign network Send Family Action, said: “Tribunal figures have almost doubled since 2015, and the system is under so much pressure that three-quarters of tribunals are being postponed. Families are appealing and winning in 89% of cases because judges recognise the legitimacy of their challenges.

“Local authorities simply don’t have enough money to meet their legal obligations to children with special educational needs. Provision has been eroded to the point where the entire Send system is collapsing.”

Source: Crisis in special educational needs drives parents to court | Education | The Guardian

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1 Comment

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    Marshall Eubanks

    There is a way to solve this issue and it is not more money. There are tens of thousands of kids that are referred to SPED simply because they can’t read. They can’t read because they are being taught reading incorrectly. If we simply passed legislation, as Texas did this last session – HB3, that required all teachers to learn how to teach reading correctly and required districts to implement Structured Literacy using Direct Instruction we would have more than enough money to pay for those that truly need SPED.

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