Bradford Special School Closures – has your child’s Statement of Special Needs been affected?
Anne McLean, specialist advisor with many years' experience, says:
"We have heard that Bradford Metropolitan District Council is restructuring special needs education and has issued closure notices on most if not all of its older special schools. They are planning to replace them with just 6 Community Special Schools, meaning that many children with Statements of Special Educational Needs will have to enter mainstream schools or units attached to mainstream schools."
"Shockingly, the closures will all happen on the same date just a few weeks from now – the special school closures in Bradford are due to take place on 18 April 2010. This means that there is an incredibly short timeframe and children are expected to change school in the middle of the school year – a traumatic experience for any child, but especially for those with special needs."
"At Simpson Millar, as experts in the field of Education Law, we have already been approached by worried parents of children attending special schools in Bradford to explore their options of appeal. As we understand it, the special schools in Bradford to be closed are:
- Bolling Special School, Bradford
- Braithwaite Special School, Keighley
- Branshaw Special School, Keighley
- Chapel Grange Special School, Bradford
- Greenfield Special School, Bradford
- Haycliffe Special Schol, Bradford
- Heaton Royds Special School, Bradford
- Lister Lane Special School, Bradford
- Thorn Park School for Deaf Children, and
- Wedgwood School & Community Nursery, Bradford"
"These plans have been in the pipeline for several years and it now looks as if they are being put into action."
"We understand that there will no longer be special schools provision except for children with very severe learning difficulties, perhaps linked with physical problems or severe and complex autism. Children with other forms of special needs will apparently be placed in mainstream education or units within mainstream schools."
A Solicitor at Simpson Millar advises that:
"When it intends to move a child to a new school, the Local Authority (LA) must write to parents saying it proposes to amend the child's Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN). It must give parents 15 days to comment on any proposed changes and the option of calling for meetings to discuss the proposal. A SEN newsletter published by Bradford District Council outlined their proposed timeline to amend Part 4 of the childrens' statements by 30 September 2009. However, it is not at all clear that this has happened. Nor is it clear that there has been any proper planning for each individual child, many of whom will find change even more difficult than most. When a final Statement of SEN is issued, parents have 2 months
to appeal the decision to the independent Special Educational Needs Tribunal and the appeal process takes about 5 months."
Victoria Edwards, trainee solicitor, is dealing with a case for a parent who is not sure whether she has had an amended statement or a right of appeal. We are concerned that other people might be confused or unsure of their rights.
Even if they are content with the new school named, families could take the opportunity to appeal for more or better specified provision in Part 3 of the statement. This is particularly important in Bradford because last year the charity IPSEA (Independent Parental Special Education Advice) complained to the Department of Children Schools and Families about statements issued by Education Bradford not properly detailing support to be provided.
Please contact us if you have not yet received an amended statement for your child or if you have one and want advice on it.
We have the expertise, dedication and fighting spirit to move fast on your behalf if your child's Statement of SEN has been amended by Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council against your wishes and you want to appeal the decision.
We are also looking at whether Bradford has followed the correct decision-making and regulatory procedures when deciding to close the schools on 18 April 2010.
Get in touch with one of our experienced team on 0345 357 9850.