The National Autistic Society Cymru is calling for the statementing
system for children with special educational needs to be made more
consistent across Wales.
Giving evidence to the Welsh assembly’s education and lifelong
learning committee, which is conducting a review of SEN policy in
Wales, the NAS said it supported the statement process but felt it
was not working well enough.
Statements – which establish a child’s needs and put a legal
obligation on local education authorities to meet these – are often
seen as the only way of obtaining educational support services.
Liz Withers, policy and campaigns officer for NAS Cymru, said
assessments for statements took too long – sometimes several years
– and criteria varied between authorities. Parents were sometimes
told by schools they were not entitled to one.
Withers also criticised LEAs for failing to meet the requirements
of statements, a situation which had resulted in many parents
taking legal action against them through a tribunal.
Rather than scrapping statements, Withers said they should include
the exact level of provision, including the number of hours a week,
and LEAs should stick more strictly to their responsibilities.