A new report has identified flaws in the way decisions are made by Local Authorities for applications for children or young people who need extra support in either a mainstream education setting – or require a placement in a specialist school.
The Administrative Justice Council (AJC) published the report on Improving Local Authority Decision-making in Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).
The report has also found that over 90% of appeals to the SEND tribunal were upheld, resulting in a positive outcome for parents or young people.
The AJC, an oversight body of the administrative justice system, convened a group of experts to understand why the numbers of appeals to the SEND tribunal and success rate for appellants is so high.
Key areas identified for improvement were better training for decision-makers, improvements to guidance, and better understanding and use of the correct legal tests were some of the key areas.
The report calls for the Department for Education and Local Authorities to learn from feedback from the redress system such as mediators, the Ombudsman and the tribunal.
Responding to the findings in the report, Rosemary Agnew, Deputy Chair of the AJC said:
“This timely report recommends practical solutions to ensure that children and young people who are in need, get the support they are entitled to. Getting the decision right at the outset means support is offered earlier, improving access to education and learning. It also reduces the burden placed on parents who have to navigate through the appeals process simply to secure support for their children. We hope that the recommendations offered by the Group will be considered carefully.”
The full report can be read here.