School failures

9th September 2005 at 01:00
Q My daughter is physically disabled and attends a local mainstream secondary school. Her statement provides for her to receive full-time learning support and eight hours of individual tuition.

However, I am certain that she has not been receiving this. I believe the school is not correctly using the resources that the local education authority has made available.

A The primary duty for arranging provision set out in a child's statement of special educational needs lies with the local education authority that maintains the statement. This duty was held to be "absolute and non-delegable" - so that even if some of the provision is usually arranged by another body (such as a school or health authority) the local authority has the ultimate responsibility for arranging it.

However, if it is the case that the local authority has been providing sufficient funds to the school, but the school has simply not been using them appropriately, it may be that, apart from bringing pressure to bear on the local authority, you should bring a complaint to the governing body of the school.

In addition, depending on what exactly has been happening, it may be that the school is liable to a claim against it for disability discrimination (particularly if it has been using the resources for purposes other than to support disabled children).

Start by talking to the school's special educational needs co-ordinator or headteacher to try and clarify what the exact difficulty is and see if you can reach an amicable solution.

If not, depending on where the problem lies, you may wish to consider bringing pressure to bear on either the local authority (which could be by way of a complaint to the ombudsman, to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, or possible court proceedings known as a judicial review) or against the school (which could be a complaint, judicial review proceedings or a claim under the Disability Discrimination Act).

David Ruebain is a partner specialising in education and disability discrimination at the law firm Levenes.

* Please email questions to or write to TES Extra for Special Needs, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London ElW lBX.

Neither writer can correspond with readers.

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