Q My son has a gastrostomy tube in his stomach, through which he is fed. Our local education authority is about to finalise a statement of special educational needs which, I understand, will set out the additional help that he will receive in order to attend school. I have agreed most of the provision but, crucially, the LEA refuses to include the need for a full- time nurse in his statement. I think that this is essential.
What do you advise?
A Statements of special educational needs are drawn up in accordance with Part 4 of the Education Act 1996, and attendant regulations and guidance, contained in the Code of Practice on Special Educational Needs. Generally, statements should be arranged in accordance with a particular format so that all of a child's educational needs are set out in Part 2, and all of the provision set out in Part 3. Occasionally, there are disputes as to whether needs and provision are educational or non-educational. If non-educational, they would not appear in Parts 2 and 3, but, instead, in Parts 5 6.
There is case law that asserts that a child's need for nursing support is not an educational need. It may well be that the local education authority is correct in not actually specifying this in Part 3 of your son's statement. However, his being fed through a gastrostomy tube will inevitably be a relevant consideration as to which school he should attend and, in fact, it may be that he can only attend a school where there is a nurse.
While the LEA may be right in not setting out the provision of a nurse in your son's statement, it should, nevertheless, have clear regard as to his need for a nurse in determining an appropriate school place for him.
David Ruebain is a partner specialising in education and disability discrimination at the law firm Levenes. www.levenes.co.uk
* Please email questions to SNExtra@tes.co.uk or write to TES Extra for Special Needs, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London ElW lBX.
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