Court bid on special needs spending fails

16th December 1994 at 00:00
A child who needs speech and language therapy has failed to overturn a controversial procedure for controlling the money spent on special educational needs. Local authorities are now using predetermined criteria for triggering assessments of pupils and for deciding their treatment.

But the policy, encouraged by the Government and the Audit Commission, was under threat in the High Court this week, as a child from Cumbria claimed that it undermines the basis of the 1981 Education Act. Individual needs, it was claimed, are not catered for: children are put into categories determined by financial need.

The child, who cannot be identified, was given a statement which placed him in a Pounds 6,000 band "which should meet all his needs". While criticising the statement that the child received, the judge upheld Cumbria's right to allocate money according to clear criteria.

"They're reversing one of the major steps forward in thinking about special needs," said John Wright of the Independent Panel for Special Education Advice, who helped prepare the case. "We must think about children as individuals with individual needs rather than as categories."

He claimed parents are suffering because LEAs explain children's needs in terms of an administrative category - "matrix 3A, for example" - rather than in the detail envisaged in the 1981 Act.

Steve Colwill, president of the Association of Educational Psychologists, said: " Nowhere are we asked to produce the absolute best for children. We must have regard for efficient use of resources."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?

Subscribe

To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers

Comments

Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
 
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today