Today, the Solihull Observer has published an article titled ‘EXCLUSIVE: Unlawful breaches for our special needs kids in Solihull’ which highlights the failing of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to comply with the law in 40% of their Special Educational Needs (SEN) cases.
The Solihull Observer have been investigating parents’ claims of lack of provision for their children with SEN and have reported that in 78 cases since January 2017, Solihull Local Authority have not been able to comply with legal timescales.
The difficulties parents in Solihull are facing relate to requesting and obtaining an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in relation to their child’s SEN.
This is a legal document which fully describes the child’s needs, and the provision they require to meet those needs. This can include provision such as support from a teaching assistant, or speech and language and occupational therapy.
The Solihull Observer rightly states that due to the important nature of these documents, and need for these documents to be issued as a matter of some urgency, there is a 20 week legal time limit for EHCP’s to be issued by Local Authorities. Unfortunately, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council are not meeting these statutory time scales, meaning that children with SEN are not getting the basic provision that they require to access education.
MP Caroline Spelman was asked by the Solihull Observer to comment on the failings of the Local Authority. She said:
“Children with special educational needs and disabilities deserve the same opportunities as other children and it is important that we, as a borough, do all we can to support their learning and development.”
“I sympathise with the parents who, in last month’s Solihull Observer, described the challenges they encountered when trying to access support from local (SEND) services.”
Unfortunately, these failings are something we, as specialist SEN lawyers, see on a day-to-day basis and whilst Solihull are lagging behind other Local Authorities in terms of issuing EHCP’s, this issue is not uncommon of any Authority in England or Wales.
It is also concerning that often, once Local Authorities have finally issued an EHCP, the content of the document has to be appealed against as it simply does not provide the child with the provision they require. This starts another 20 week process which further delays getting children with SEN the help they need.
If you’re experiencing problems similar to those discussed above, or otherwise in securing additional support for you child from the Local Authority, our specialist SEN lawyers can help. Please call us for a free initial telephone consultation on 0333 202 7175.