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Ombudsman calls for fair treatment of children with SEN

Archived press release

Date Published: 04/03/14

Fair treatment for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) is being called for by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) in a new report.

The report, SEN: Preparing for the Future, urges that children with SEN, and their families, must be treated fairly and receive the support to which they are entitled. It highlights a number of stories from the LGO’s complaints where pupils are being unlawfully excluded from school, being denied specialist support, and many are having their education opportunities limited because of long delays.

With the Children and Families Bill soon to bring in new legislation around the way SEN is provided, the report will help councils learn the lessons of the past in the hope that future mistakes can be avoided.

The report also proposes a series of questions that councillors and committees can ask of their local authorities when scrutinising the delivery of services for children with SEN, as well as sharing a number of recommendations based on good practices seen in councils across the country.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said:

”Children with SEN, and their families, must be treated fairly by councils so they receive the support to which they are entitled. It is not acceptable when pupils miss out on crucial education, are unlawfully excluded or have their education opportunities adversely affected.

“A common phrase we hear from families when resolving a dispute about SEN is that it feels like a constant battle. It should not be this way. When things go wrong it is vital that councils act quickly to avoid children being disadvantaged.”

The LGO receives more complaints about education and children’s services than any other area, with 17% of its 20,186 complaints in 2012/13 being in this area. Complaints about SEN provision accounted for 8.6% of all education and children’s services complaints.