Special Educational Needs in Dorset
Every child has the right to an Education.
What are Special Educational Needs?
Special educational needs (SEN) can amount to any difficulty a child or young person has in accessing education. Special educational needs can substantially impact how a person learns. If a child or young person has a learning difficulty, special educational provisions should be made.
Special educational needs can have a substantial impact on:
- ability to understand
- concentration levels
- hearing and/or visual impairment
- physical ability
- social skills
If a child or young person has additional difficulties in accessing school or education and requires support beyond that typically made for young people of the same age, they likely have special educational needs.
If you are not sure whether your child or young person has educational needs, you should speak to our specialist solicitors. If you think that your child or young person needs additional support, our specialist solicitors will be happy to help and guide you through the process.
If you are caring for a child or young person and they are having difficulties in an educational setting, they may have special educational needs. If your child or young person has special educational needs, they should be given additional support to assist their learning.
The SENCo (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) and your child’s teacher will work together and decide what additional support your child may need. This is known as an Individual Education Plan. To meet your child’s special educational needs, your child’s teacher and SENCo are responsible for providing the support detailed in the Individual Educational Plan. This could include additional support staff or external experts.
In some instances, the school will not identify that your child has SEN, or the child or young person’s needs simply cannot be met by the school. It is at this point that you should consider starting the application for an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP).
Parents should be aware that schools receive a budget, which is an amount of money known as the Delegated Budget. This is used to support children with special educational needs. This can often limit the amount of support that can be available for schools to deliver to children with SEN, unless the local authority issues an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
If the child needs more support than the school can provide, an Education, Health and Care Plan may be needed. These discussions should take place between the school and parents. There is no requirement for the school to complete the ‘Assess, Plan, Do, Review’ cycle before seeking an EHC assessment.
What SEN Support is there in Dorset?
Dorset’s SEN policies and guidance can be found here:
We would always advise parents to make sure that they focus on the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice, rather than Dorset’s SEN policies only. The SEN code of practice can be found here:
You will also find a link to Dorset’s Local Offer below. This explains what support is available for children and young people with special educational needs in Dorset.
How can I get an EHCP in Dorset?
Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) bring together a range of health, education and social care information about a child or young person. Before an EHCP can be issued, the local authority must make an EHC needs assessment. The guidance for applying for an EHC needs assessment and an EHCP in Dorset can be found here:
This guidance can be helpful to determine how to apply for an EHC needs assessment and an EHCP, however it is important to know that Dorset local authority must comply with legal duties under the Children and Families Act 2014, and the SEND Code of Practice 2015, as well as operating its own policies. Whilst these laws can be complicated, in our experience, local authority’s own policies can over simplify the law. This can result in poor decision making as the local authority often will apply their policies without fully considering the child or young person’s needs and circumstances.Often this can lead to SEN teams making unfortunate decisions which is why parents require specialist advice from us.
At the conclusion of the EHC needs assessment, the local authority will decide whether an EHCP is necessary. What is ‘necessary’ is subjective and the local authority are responsible for deciding how to meet your child or young person’s additional needs. If the local authority refuses to complete an EHC needs assessment, or if they refuse to make an EHCP, you can appeal to the Special Education Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).
Where can I find SEN legal advice in Dorset?
We have vast experience of providing special educational needs advice in Dorset. We have helped many families to successfully appeal via a Tribunal against decisions made by the Dorset SEN team. If you would like advice and support, our specialist solicitors will be happy to help and guide you through the process. If you need any legal advice or guidance, please contact our specialist solicitors on 02920 291 704.