A Shropshire solicitor and education expert warned that proposed changes to the way young people with special needs are supported is in danger of leaving some without any support at all.

The Government proposes to replace the current system of statements of need with a simpler, more family-friendly assessment in what is being claimed as the biggest shake-up for special needs education for three decades.

Bryony Walker, a partner with Mortimers solicitors, said that while an overhaul is necessary it should not be at the expense of some of those currently being helped.

“There is such a wide spectrum of youngsters with special educational needs, some much more severe than others,” said Mrs Walker, who is based in the Bridgnorth office of Mortimers.

“There have got to be different levels of support according to each child’s situation.

“While I think that children with more complex and perhaps more severe needs will benefit, this system is not appropriate for others who I fear will be shunted aside.

“It is all well and good in theory that parents be given control of budgets but in practice it is often impossible for them to know what is best.

“There could also be a bigger role for voluntary groups in providing service. But if the voluntary sector is starved of funding and resources, as it is now, how can proper, expert support possibly be given to those who need it?

“As I say, I welcome the idea of an overhaul and I think more mediation whereby parents, schools, health and social care are brought together, is to be encouraged.

“But the detail needs to be looked at so that some of those with perhaps less severe educational needs get the support they deserve.”

12-04-2011