Chris and Tina Law took their education law matter to a Swansea Council tribunal in order to gain extra support for their daughter, Kaitlin.
Whilst the couple won their case it cost £20,000 and they commented that the process was both a nightmare and that it “drains you dry”. In response the Council said that they try to work with the parents to “resolve any issues beforehand”.
Mrs Law said, “The cost financially, it is a large amount of money and we are very privileged and lucky to be able to spend that amount of money. The emotional investment was enormous.”
As a result of her parents perseverance Kaitlin now gets 15 hours of one-to-one help per week. Additionally she also gets special support with literacy and numeracy, speech and language and occupational therapy.
Chris and Tina have called for matters to be simplified and have described the year long process as “draining”.
In the face of the obstacles they have faced Mr Laws said the additional measures to be put in place, “….will help her develop and be the person that we always knew she could be”.
Statistically the majority of those who challenge local authority decisions at, “Special Education Needs Tribunal Wales” (SENTW) are successful, with statistics showing that only 5% of appeals were dismissed in 2016-17.
Education Specialist Ed Duff, of HCB Solicitors in Cardiff, believes councils lose so many tribunals due to a lack of cash.
Ed commented, “I refuse to believe any local authority anywhere in Wales would be wilfully refusing to provide support that pupils need or wilfully failing to properly asses pupils’ needs. It has to be that the budget line just isn’t there to be able to properly comply with the duties they’re currently under.”
The Welsh Government claims a, “renewed focus” on resolving disputes between parents and local authorities with the aim to reduce the number of tribunal matters.
A spokesman said, “We are also investing £20m to support the skills development of the education workforce to ensure learners’ needs are catered for in preparation for the new Additional Learning Needs system.”
The Association of Directors of Education in Wales commented that the majority of parents, “are completely satisfied” with the process.
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