Equal partners

31st January 1997 at 00:00
You report concern among local education authorities about the effects of the special needs tribunal (TES, January 17).

I retired after 25 years as a comprehensive head and then became an advocate for children with visual impairment. It was a shock to be reminded how complex the system is for the families of such children.

I have met hardly any "difficult" families, just as I have met hardly any professionals who are not striving to do their best for pupils. I have, however, on occasion, had to point out to overworked professionals that they are not abiding by the law andor the code of practice.

I can think of other questions that need answers so that a full picture is gained. How consistently do LEAs deal with similar cases? What percentage of statements are not written according to the code of practice? Do educational psychologists feel under pressure to provide an incomplete picture that helps save money? How often does an LEA make a parent go to a tribunal and then give way just before the tribunal?

Rather than highlight the few parents or professionals who abuse the system, would not a better way forward be to hold discussions between the professionals, parent organisations and those who support parents?

LEAs must acknowledge that parents are far more aware of their children's needs and rights, and want to be treated as equal partners.

JOHN WERNER Blatchington Court Trust 165 Dyke Road Hove East Sussex

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