Councils fail to promote Special Education options

Survey reveals just one in eight families were told about further education options outside local authority control.

That is 88 per cent of parents. A further 30 per cent of the 1,600 respondents said they had been “stopped or discouraged” from visiting, being assessed for or applying for places at colleges and other institutions outside council control. The survey, run by National Star College, a specialist FE institution, has prompted a call from Association of National Specialist Colleges (Natspec) for councils to provide better information for families. Chief executive Alison Boulton said: “Rather than local offers which promote the minimum, there needs to be some long term thinking in the system that supports young people and families to look to a positive future.” In 2013, the children and families act put councils in charge of finding provision for all SEN learners and established new education health and care (EHC) plans to guide them through their education. But concerns about the implementation of the legislation have been raised after the survey revealed 54 per cent of parents did not know they could indicate a preferred institution on their child’s EHC plan. “The act was promoted as placing young people and families ‘at the heart of the new system. It will provide them with greater choice and control over services," Ms Boulton added: “Without impartial and comprehensive information, young people and their parents cannot make informed choices, nor can they be confident that they are being offered the choice of college that will best meet their needs.” Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, has backed calls for councils to provide more information. He said: “It is important for local councils to ensure that parents are made aware of all the options available for their child’s education. But David Simmonds, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board said: “Alternative provision tends to come at a much higher price and local authorities have a responsibility to ensure they have their own arrangements and facilities to support the vast majority of children. “In the vast majority of schools, local authorities will be able to provide the quality provision needed, so it’s not a surprise that the vast majority are being offered local authority provision.” Read the full story.
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