Parents Fight against Government White Paper Set to Reduce the Rights of Parents of Children with Special Educational Needs

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Mansoor Siddique backs petition against the proposed changes in the educational and support system for those children with special needs such as deafness.

Mansoor Siddique

A white paper (Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) released by the UK Government and the Education Department makes recommendations which would drastically change the way essential services are provided to those children with disabilities and special educational needs and the way in which these services can be accessed by their parents.

A petition which is currently in progress has now topped over 13,000 signatures but further awareness of the white paper and the issues involved need to be raised as there are so many issues within the document that would drastically reduce the rights of parents of children with special needs.

Some facts from the Government white paper which were announced by the UK Government’s Children’s Minister Sarah Teather that the petition is looking to address are those regarding the current statutory assessment process. The campaigners who are looking to back the petition against the changes state that the changes which have been proposed would remove any right of both schools and parents to request a statutory assessment of the educational requirements for a child (Council for Disabled Children Document).

The statutory assessment has been in existence since the Education Act of 1981 and being completely cut out will drastically change the whole procedure when it comes to allocating support for children with special educational needs. In addition it makes it much more difficult for parents to request access to such services which are necessary for their child (IPSEA Independent Parental Special Educational Advice). A statutory assessment is an important part of getting the right education plan for a child with special educational needs and without it many children could fall to the wayside and be left behind without the educational support they require.

In addition to the removal of the right to request a statutory assessment any disputes that arise have to be dealt with through non independent mediation which once again focuses on the cost cutting of the local authorities.

This is a change which will essentially add further bureaucracy to the process and add more time whilst children across the country who need the services and special education provision will have to wait lengthy periods for services and parents will be unable to appeal against this.

There has never been such a large reduction in the rights of parents of children with special needs and the white paper proposals from the Children’s Minister Sarah Teather are significantly concerning on a multitude of levels across the board. This has led to the interest in the online petition addressed to the Department of Education which recently reached 13,000 signatures which can be found at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/34073

Ultimately, Mansoor Siddique suggest that if the changes proposed in the white paper go ahead then thousands of children across the United Kingdom will lose out on essential support on exceptionally vital areas such as education and it is therefore imperative that the petition to the Department of Education highlights just how much of an effect these changes will have within families, schools and the lives of children.

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Dr M Mansoor Siddique
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