Tuesday 7 September 2010

New code will help parents of children with additional support needs

The Herald reports that parents of children who need extra help in school are now in a better position to demand it, but many councils don’t fully understand the duties imposed on them by a new Government code, according to legal experts. Last month the Scottish Government published a code of practice on supporting children’s learning, which clarifies laws passed in 2005 and updated last year.

Iain Nisbet, of Glasgow’s Govan Law Centre, says the guidance will give parents new rights to take councils to tribunals or courts if their children’s needs are not met. “The code of practice will have a subtle but significant impact,” he said. “We already have duties incumbent on schools, but this gives it a standing in law that previous policies didn’t have.”

The code makes it clear that parents of children with learning disabilities, for instance, can expect schools to help plan what happens when their child leaves school, no less than a year before it happens.

“Transitions to post-school places are supposed to begin not more than 12 months before the child is due to leave school. Such transitions are a really big problem and are still not being done very well,” Mr Nisbet said. “If there is no plan in place, parents will be entitled to ask – why not? And they will have a new right to challenge transitions that aren’t done well.”

The code also clarifies the duty of local authorities to consider the additional needs of children in care, and the right of parents of any child to ask for an assessment of any special needs they may have.  The full story is available in The Herald here.

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