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Durham Mother Fights Council over SEN Statement for Autistic Daughter

The mother of a five-year-old autistic girl is fighting to get the educational support her daughter needs.

Lydia Stocks needs one-to-one support at her primary school as she has severe speech and language problems but her mother, Charlotte Stocks, has been trying for over two years to get a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) that meets Lydia's exact needs, as reported by the Durham Times.

Mrs Stocks is unhappy with the statements provided so far and fears for Lydia’s development if she doesn’t get the help with her speech that she needs.

Durham County Council said that people who are unhappy with statements of SEN have the option of taking the case to a tribunal hearing and took the opportunity to mention that statements of SEN are gradually being replaced by Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans.

EHC plans introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014 aim to be a single document, detailing a child’s educational, health and social care needs, ensuring that they receive the additional support they need to help them fulfil their potential.

Under the EHC system, mediation has been introduced as a mandatory consideration before the matter is taken to the tribunal, in order to try and settle disputes with local authorities, such as the one Mrs Stocks is currently having with Durham Council.

The new system also requires a much more collaborative approach between education and health services through the ‘joint commissioning’ of services for children with special educational needs.

The old SEN system was criticised by some people as being cumbersome as many children had health needs which were addressed elsewhere and separately to their educational needs.

The new joint commissioning requirement should, if used properly, help bring together a detailed account of a child’s educational, health and social care needs in one place.

In addition, a Code of Practice is available and this runs alongside the new system and is a vital tool in understanding how it works and what should happen at particular stages.

See our related blog: Disability Rights Solicitor Comments on Education Health and Care Plans

Liz Perry is an Educational Rights Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

For more information or legal assistance call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online. Our contact centre is open 24 hours 365 days a year.

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