Page last updated at 13:25 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Special needs parents 'need help'

Children writing
More support is needed for parents of special needs children

Parents of children with special needs should be given more support, an inquiry is set to recommend.

A government-commissioned study by Brian Lamb says that a significant number of parents are not satisfied with the help they receive.

In response, the government will promise measures including a national support helpline and clearer information about rights to support.

Parents have complained that feel they have to "fight the system".

The report by Mr Lamb will reflect calls for more parent-friendly support for families with children with special needs.

'Huge battles'

It will say that parents want to know what help is available and to have clearer guidelines about what should happen in schools.

There will also be proposals that the Local Government Ombudsman should be funded to consider parents' complaints against local authorities.

Special needs tribunals are also set to be improved and and there will be promises for more support for children who face bullying.

Special needs system 'causes suffering'

The National Autistic Society's chief executive, Mark Lever, said: "A great many parents of children and young people with autism have to fight huge battles to get the education support that should be theirs by right, often at considerable emotional and financial expense.

"We hear terrible stories from parents of local authorities flouting the law by ignoring diagnoses, not meeting statutory timescales, failing to write statements properly, and even saying they 'don't do' statements any more.

"It is hardly surprising then that parents have little confidence in the special educational needs system, and they could be forgiven for thinking that this report will do little to change what for them is an often complicated, intimidating, and sometimes infuriating system."

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said: "In the New Year we will set our plans to address the recommendations that Brian has made to address the changes to teaching and learning that are necessary to improve educational outcomes for children with SEN.

"We are now working to ensure all parents have confidence in decision making by giving them and their children a stronger voice at the heart of the SEN system."

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