Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Limiting statements / plans
Question: Ofsted told our local authority that they issue too many statements which has resulted in children on lower banding not getting them. I've heard from an EP that those believed to be on Band D or less, which includes most children with Down’s syndrome, will no longer get a statement. How would that fit with the new system?
IPSEA’s answer: The decision as to whether a child needs a statement must be based on the legal test as to whether they have special educational needs and whether those needs can be meet from the resources ordinarily available in local schools. If bands are used by a LA then it must only be as an internal process for indicating the potential level of resources needed to meet the individual needs of that child. A band cannot in law be the basis of a blanket policy towards a category of children such as those with Down’s syndrome (the decision must be made about the child as an individual). Bands can never be used as an excuse not to provide individual support if there is evidence that the child needs it. It is unlawful in such decisions to take into account facts outside the child’s situation, such as how many other children in the LA have statements. There are no set limits – if a child has needs that have to be meet through a statement then they should get one.
We would be very surprised if OFSTED actually said that and would be interested to see any report. An EP cannot say that any group of children will not get a statement or the proposed EHC Plan as that will depend only on whether as individuals they need it.
In the proposed SEN reforms, we are concerned that the draft legislation’s legal test for triggering statutory assessment in order to get an EHC plan has been changed from what it is currently. The legal test for actually getting a EHC plan is also no longer clear.
We also have evidence from some of the Pathfinder Pilot LAs that they do not think that they will be able to maintain the level of statements and learning disability assessments that they currently do. The costs are just too high and LAs are suffering cuts. The minister confirmed in front of the Select Committee that there would be no new FE money. Just the the money that is already in the system which from April 2012 has been delegated to LAs. So anything extra going into FE and anything spent in implementing a new system will be at the expense of school-age children.