Lamb Inquiry calls for parent power

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Brian Lamb

Parents need a stronger voice in the education of children with SEN, and the school system should be more focused on outcomes. These are the broad conclusions of the final report of the Lamb Inquiry into Parental Confidence in the SEN System, issued to Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, this week.

In a letter to Mr Balls, the Inquiry’s Chairman, Brain Lamb, said: “there needs to be a major reform of the current system….There needs to be a radical recasting of the relationship between parents, schools and local authorities to ensure a clearer focus on the outcomes and life chances for children with SEN and disability.”

The report makes 51 specific recommendations, including the provision of more specialist support in schools, improvements to the statementing process and strengthening codes of practice for professionals working with children. It also calls for a number of legislative and procedural changes, such as the tightening up of disability rights laws, the introduction of a right of appeal for children and improved funding for the Local Government Ombudsman to deal with SEN complaints.

The Inquiry was commissioned by the Secretary of State in 2008 and its final report has been widely welcomed by charities and other organisations involved in SEN. The Government has also been quick to respond with promises of action on a number of the Inquiry’s recommendations. These include, establishing a parental helpline, strengthening parent partnership services, improving guidance and appeals procedures for exclusions and pilot schemes to examine how local authorities make decisions about children.

The final report of the Lamb Inquiry can be downloaded by visiting: www.dcsf.gov.uk/lambinquiry

In the March/April 2010 issue of SEN Magazine, Brain Lamb outlines his Inquiry’s recommendations and discusses their implications for the education of children with SEN in the UK. To subscribe to SEN Magazine click here

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