Special needs education in spotlight

A NATIONAL charity has today called on Suffolk-based parents of children with special needs to scrutinise the work of the county's education authority.

A NATIONAL charity has today called on Suffolk-based parents of children with special needs to scrutinise the work of the county's education authority.

The move comes just days after Suffolk County Council was criticised in an investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman for its provision of special needs education.

As reported the Evening Star the ombudsman found the council's practices as 'maladministration causing injustice' after an Ipswich couple complained about education provision for their son 'Stephen' (not his real name), who has special needs.

The Woodbridge-based Independent Panel for Special Education Advice (IPSEA) is now urging parents to double check their children are receiving the right amount of hours of special needs lessons each week.


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IPSEA chief executive John Wright said special needs Statements - a document setting out special education provision for each child - should clearly set out the provision necessary to meet the needs of each child.

He said: "When 'Stephen's' Statement was amended on his transfer to secondary school the council removed the specific quantity of hours in line with practice at the time.

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"The council has since amended its practices but it was at fault with its previous policy."

"It is vitally important that parents are urged to check their children's statements. Unless a statement sets out the quantity of hours of help or special lessons a child needs there is no guarantee that a child will get the help they need.

"Hundreds of special educational needs children could be affected by the council's previous actions."

In a statement a council spokeswoman stressed the council now specifies the number of hours of special educational provision each child should receive.

She said: "Suffolk County Council now specifies the number of hours of specialised help that should be provided on statements of special educational need.

"Schools get a list of annual reviews that must be completed on a termly basis, and we are also sending out a general reminder to all schools about their part in the annual review process."

She added: "We will be reporting the outcomes of the Ombudsman's investigation, and his recommendations, to the county council's Standards Committee at the beginning of February, so that councillors can fully consider this case."

N For further information or advice from IPSEA please call 0800 0184016 or visit www.ipsea.org.uk

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