One of the key issues for parents is the consideration and management of their children’s education. While this is a complex issue, it can become even more challenging if the child presents with mental and/or physical disabilities and requires special educational facilities.
Conditions such as cerebral palsy have various levels of severity and it is not always simple to opt for the correct course of action regarding a child’s education. Experts advise that early support and help will give a child with CP the base for effective development, but this does not make a parent’s decision any easier. Children with severe cases typically require full support with therapeutic input, specialist schooling, specialist teachers and specific equipment. Children with mild CP may be able to enter mainstream education with minimal intervention – so, what is the best option?
What Are Special Educational Needs?
Special educational needs refer to disabled schools or the educational needs of children with severe and complex developmental requirements that cannot be met using the standard resources in a mainstream school. To be considered a child who requires special education, it is necessary to gain a Statement of Special Educational Needs because this will ensure that the child receives the appropriate education. The special education facilities are available in different ways ranging from additional support in the child’s mainstream school setting or a special school placement.
The Statement of Special Educational Needs is a legally binding document that is issued by a local authority to describe the special educational needs of the child. This will specify the required educational provision to meet the needs and should name an appropriate school where the educational provision will be delivered regardless of whether it is mainstream or special education.
A Statement is a six-part legal document with the purpose of ensuring that a child with special needs will receive the appropriate level of educational support to meet these special educational needs. The special education provision as specified within the document must be delivered and the local authority issuing the document will be responsible for ensuring the provision is delivered.
What Are The Options Available For Special Educational Needs?
It is essential that all schools admit students with identified special educational needs and no school is allowed to refuse a child based on the grounds that they believe they are unable to meet the child’s special educational needs. This requirement will foster and promote an inclusive educational environment.
For children presenting with special educational needs who do not have a Statement of Special Educational Needs, the traditional mainstream schooling admission process will apply and they need to be treated as all other students. However, a different system is put in place for children who do present with a Statement.
If the child presents with a Statement, the parent can express a preference for any state-maintained school to be named in the document. Unless the local authority issuing the Statement feels the education of the child would be incompatible with the education of other students, the local authority needs to comply with the preference of the parent for a state-maintained mainstream school. Of course, if the child requires more advanced specialist educational provisions, the input from a specialist school may be necessary.
Is Parental Choice An Option?
Parental choice is important when deciding on the child’s education and all parents have a right to choose the school they prefer their child attend, but they do need to offer reasons for their decision. It is, however, possible that despite the parent’s preference the school chosen may not be the most beneficial option for the child and this is particularly clear in the case of special educational needs.
If it is evident that the child will require special educational support with specialist school provisions, the educational, health and care team will work with the child to locate an appropriate school. In some cases, there are disagreements between parents and professionals as to whether a special education school is needed and/or what type of special school is required. In many situations where the child presents with mild CP, the choices are various and this can present a challenge to ensure that the most suitable educational route is followed.