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Myth Busting

There are many myths relating to Special Educational Needs. We are here to help with myth busting. Simply click on each myth below for guidance. 

A medical diagnosis is not essential to receive support for a child with SEN. It often takes time to obtain a diagnosis, even though it is obvious the child has substantial needs. It would be unlawful for a public body to refuse to provide care and support because there had been no diagnosis.

Local authorities are under a duty to provide transport support for some disabled children.  For example, to school or to a respite service. Transport assistance cannot be refused because the disabled child lives less than three miles from school or is receiving DLA/PIP mobility allowance.

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) cannot refuse to support certain groups of people.  For example, those with autism or ADHD. They should work with all young people in need of specialist mental health help.

Short breaks support are sometimes referred to as ‘respite care’. Local authorities are under a duty to provide such support to assist family carers of disabled children. Local authorities must assess how much short breaks support a family needs.  They are then under a duty to provide this. There is no ‘maximum’ limit on how much support of this kind can be provided.

A DFG is paid by the local authority to cover the cost of adapting a home to make it accessible/safe for a disabled person. DFGs are non-means tested for disabled children.  This can be paid for rented as well as owner-occupied homes.

Direct payments (DP) are cash payments made by social services.  They are made to people who have been assessed as needing support. DPs can be used to employ family members.

Carers (and disabled people) have a right to an assessment with a skilled member of social services, who must identify their ‘needs’ for:

  • social care support
  • services
  • equipment

An EHC plan can continue as long as the young person stays in some kind of education or training.  This doesn’t cover higher education.  

The EHC needs assessment must include advice on the child/young person’s social care needs.  This may not need to be via an assessment under section 17 of the Children Act.  It could be via Early Support or other non-statutory assessment processes.
If the child is eligible for school transport, the Local Authority must provide it (Education Act 1996). Sometimes there is disagreement over the choice and cost of placement.  LAs and parents can make an agreement whereby the LA names the parents choice of school if the parent agrees to provide transport.

The legal test for statutory assessment under the Children and Families Act 2014 is:

  • whether the child/young person has or may have SEN
  • whether it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in an EHCP

All Local Authority will have criteria for making decisions on assessment.  These must not impose a higher threshold than the legal test. The LA can reasonably expect the education provider to be able to evidence that they have taken ‘relevant and purposeful action’.  A lack of this, however, will not necessarily be enough to prove that an EHCP is not necessary.  The LA cannot insist on an EP or any other report as part of any eligibility criteria.

Provision supplied by health providers which educates or trains the child/young person should be in section F. This is particularly applicable to speech and language therapy since communication is essential to education, but it can apply to other types of health provision.

Yes, you can. The LA should consider your preference unless the suggested placement is incompatible with:

  • the efficient use of public funds
  • the efficient education of other pupils
No, they can’t, unless admission of your child would be incompatible with the efficient education of other children AND there are no reasonable steps that can be taken to overcome that incompatibility.

Yes it can. If the child’s attendance at the parents preferred school would not meet their special educational needs, or would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, or the efficient use of resources, then the LA must name the school or other institution, or type of institution, that they consider to be most appropriate for the child.