In the best interests of the child: about this blog

It is vital that all decisions about special educational needs provision are driven by what is best for children and young people.

This blog has been created for parents, carers and young people as a basic guide to the bewildering world of special educational needs in England. It is not intended to provide legal advice but to help point you in the right direction. 

The delivery of high-quality provision to children with SEN is fundamental to any concept of effective inclusivity in our mainstream schools. At January 2010, only 2.7% of school-aged children and young people had a statement of special educational needs. These children represent the most vulnerable in our school system.

Yet, despite their extreme vulnerability, our clearly defined statutory framework, and the risk of loss of opportunity associated with SEN not being met, SEN provision may depend solely on the tenacity, ability, and often the financial means of parents.

The need for parents to ‘fight’ for their children’s educational provision is a consequence of the enormous power imbalance between the parties within our SEN system. Local Authorities may be underfunded but they have extensive resources in terms of decision-making powers, access to external agencies and to limitless legal advice and representation. Additionally, they both assess needs and fund provision, creating an obvious conflict of interest. This situation places the parent, and consequently their child, at a significant disadvantage.

This blog attempts to pull together a variety of SEN and disability rights resources, including sources of information and advice about the SEN system to help parents address this disadvantage.

I am Debbie Sayers: a lawyer and the parent of a child with special educational needs. I believe passionately that education plays a critical role in relation to dismantling barriers, promoting a human rights culture and developing informed citizens who are able to participate in, and build, a more inclusive society. Within the microcosm of the education system, we should be able to construct and develop a model of inclusion which connects and empowers all our children and young people.

This blog aims to give parents a voice and is compiled with their help. It is a collaborative effort:

For parents, by parents, for free.

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