The National Autistic Society has welcomed assurances from Education Minister Edward Timpson MP that parents will continue to have the same rights as now under a reformed special educational needs (SEN) system.
Speaking in a debate in the House of Commons on autism, the Minister said “the new system of education, health and care plans will carry through all the rights that parents have under the current statementing system”.
The National Autistic Society had been raising concerns with the Government that parental rights did not appear to be as strong in the draft legislation on SEN, as they currently are. We welcome these assurances, but will be working to make sure that this is brought through into the legislation.
During the debate, while many MPs supported the thrust of the reforms, as well as concerns on parental right both Labour and Conservative MPs highlighted the need for a national framework to underpin the proposed ‘local offer’ on service provision and the importance of joint working with the new health and well being boards.
Cheryl Gillan MP, who was responsible for championing the 2009 Autism Act through Parliament, highlighted the vital role of independent special schools in addressing children with complex needs. She stressed that the NAS’s experience of running seven specialist schools enabled them to speak “from a position of great strength” on the need to include such schools in the new SEN legislation.
The Minister stressed that the Government are “still at a listening stage in the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill” and that he was “under no illusions about the importance of getting this right”.
The National Autistic Society will continue to work on the new legislation as it is developed. If you have any feedback on the reforms, please comment below or email email@example.com
To read a full transcript of the debate, see here