Sunday, 24 April 2011

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN (Legal Duty & Law)

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN

Governors‘ legal duties to children with special educational needs apply to the governing bodies of all maintained schools. It is the governing body as whole,not individual governors, which has legal duties.

Legal duty

The Education Act 1996 s. 317 requires Governing bodies of schools to use their best endeavours to:

• Ensure that for any pupil who has SEN the special educational provision which his learning difficulty calls for is made

• Ensure that where a pupil has special educational needs, those needs are made known to all who are likely to teach him

• Ensure that the teachers in the school are aware of the importance of identifying, and providing for, those registered pupils who have special educational needs

• Designate a member of the staff at the school (to be known as the ―special educational needs co-ordinator‖) as having responsibility for co-ordinating the provision for pupils with special educational needs and make sure they are suitably qualified.

The Law

Governing body SEN duties are set out in the following legislation:

Part IV of the Education Act 1996 as amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA).

Key regulations are the Education (SEN) (England) (Consolidation)

Regulations 2001 and the Education (SEN) (Information (England)

Regulations 1999 amended in 2005.

SEN Code of Practice – Statutory guidance which Governing bodies must have regard to when fulfilling legal duties towards children with SEN should be followed unless there are ―exceptional reasons not to do so.

Governor duties regarding the appointment of SENCOs are contained in:

The Education (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2009

Duties towards children with SEN

• Consult the local education authority and the governing bodies of other schools to ensure co-ordination of Special Educational Provision

• Inform the child's parent that special educational provision is being made for him there because it is considered that he has special educational needs.

• Shall secure, so far as is reasonably practicable and is compatible with—

(a) the child receiving the special educational provision which his learning difficulty calls for,

(b) the provision of efficient education for the children with whom he will be educated, and

(c) the efficient use of resources,ensure that the child engages in the activities of the school together with children who do not have special educational needs.

The responsible person: either the head teacher or a designated governor whom the local authority will inform when a statement is made for a child. The responsible person must then ensure that all the child‘s teachers know about their SEN.

A duty to have regard to the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice

Under Education Act 1996 s.313 the Secretary of State has a duty to issue a Code of Practice containing guidance on the law on special educational needs and provision, and all relevant bodies have a duty to have regard to‘ the guidance in the Code. To have regard to‘ the Code means that the guidance:

1. Must always be considered; and

2. Should always be followed - unless there is a very good reason not to (for example, because a school has found a better way of achieving the Code‘s aims for children with special educational needs).

Much of the Code paraphrases the law, and when possible it is better if the law is relied upon rather than the Code.

The full report for School governors understand their legal duties to children with SEN from IPSEA can be downloaded from here

IPSEA is a registered charity offering free and independent advice to parents of children with special educational needs in England and Wales on:

• local authorities’ legal duties to assess and provide for children with special educational needs;
• exclusions of children with special needs/disabilities;
• actions or inaction
by local authorities and/or schools which discriminate against children with disabilities

Website Twitter @IPSEAcharity

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