Scope for needs improvements

14th November 2003 at 00:00
Scope, the national disability organisation, is saddened to hear that local education authorities are acting illegally in refusing to comply with the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act by not offering children with special needs the assessment and provision to which they are legally entitled. (TES,October 24).

Your article highlights the fact that LEAs are misusing the current tribunal system by expecting families to use it to gain an initial statement or to do battle for their child's special educational needs, rather than as a last resort; thus delaying the assessment and provision to which they are legally entitled.

Scope supports the system, but only as an opportunity for parents to appeal against LEA decisions. We are deeply concerned that the way in which it is being used currently is causing considerable financial and emotional stress for families, while their child's education suffers in the short term.

Scope supports the National Autistic Society's recent call for independent monitoring of LEAs. This would ensure that spending on SEN is used appropriately, and that the necessary provision that has been requested at the tribunal is implemented within the agreed timescales. It is in everyone's interest to ensure that appropriate support is available to meet the needs of disabled children and to ensure that they can be educated alongside their peers and receive an education that enables full participation in society.

Emily Wooster

Research and public policy officer

Siobhan Sheerin

Assistant manager, press and PR

Scope

6 Market Road, London N7

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