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Confusion claim on speech therapy

The Government is still giving confusing messages to the parents of children with speech and language problems, according to the Association For All Speech Impaired Children, AFASIC.

The result, says the charity, is that thousands of children are being deprived of speech therapy because neither health authorities nor LEAs will accept responsibility for paying.

Even when children are given statements of special educational need - formal promises of help - their health and education authorities often fail to provide the therapists. A court ruling of 1989, the Lancashire Ruling, has theoretically established that LEAs must pay if local health authorities refuse to provide the service.

But this position is confused in the new Code of Practice for the Identification and Assessment of Special Education Needs which says that the health service has the "prime" responsibility, while the "ultimate" responsibility rests with education services.

And in a new turn, the Department for Education has written to a parent insisting that education services will only provide speech therapy when the health authority has given education the money to do so.

"Any decision to make LEAs responsible would have to be accompanied by the return of funds to local authorities from district health authorities," writes an official.

Norma Corkish, director of AFASIC, says that the DFE appears to be avoiding the financial consequences of the Lancashire Ruling. "We would suggest that a transfer of funds is not the way to solve this problem. What we have asked for are ways of enabling local authorities to have the resources to purchase therapy. There is a need for more therapy to be available therefore transferring the funds is not in essence helping the situation."

TES november 11 1994 simon townsley Mediocrity in education is out . . . so says Peter Kilfoyle, the former teacher who is Labour's new junior front-bench education spokesman.

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