Special Educational Needs Code of Practice 2002

This new Act strengthens the right to a place in mainstream school for children with special educational needs and makes discrimination in schools and colleges unlawful.

What does the new Act mean for children with a learning disability?

When parents want a mainstream school for their child this has to be arranged except when it affects the "efficient education" of other children at the school. When parents want a special school for their son or daughter they still have the right to state that preference.

These new rights do not mean that every child will be able to go the school of their choice. All parents are able to state their choices of school but do not automatically get their first choice. The Act does mean that all schools have to look at what changes they could make in order to include a child with a learning disability.

What does the Act mean for schools?

Schools will have to make significant changes to the training of staff and to the curriculum and to plan positively to include a wider range of pupils including children with all types of learning disability. All schools have to develop an accessibility plan by April 2003.There is extra funding for schools to help them do this and OFSETD will monitor their progress.

Schools will not be able to refuse a place to a child with a learning disability unless they can prove that the education of other children would be adversely affected. It will become unlawful for schools to discriminate against pupils with a learning disability.

What help is there for parents in understanding these changes?

Under the new Act, all Local Education Authorities have to provide information and advice to parents of children with special educational needs. This information and advice is available through the Parent Partnership Service and you local council office would be able to give you contact details. If you want additional help the Parent Partnership Service will be able to put you in touch with a trained Independent Parental Supporter.

I have heard about Statements, what are these?

Children have different types of learning disabilities and generally schools are able to provide some extra help in the classroom to support the child's learning. Some children need significantly more support, and for these children a Statement of Special Needs is written by the Local Education Authority. This follows a full assessment, involving you, professionals and whenever possible your child. The Statement describes your child's special educational needs and what will be provided to meet these needs. Statements are reviewed with you every year and can be changed as your child's needs change over time.

What happens if I don't agree with the school or the Education Authority?

In the first place you can contact your local Parent Partnership Service and discuss your concerns. From January 2002 all Education Authorities have to provide a disagreement resolution (mediation) service to help you and the school or education authority reach an acceptable agreement. This mediation service is independent of the Education Department and you can find out about this through the Parent Partnership Service or your child's school. If you are not able to reach agreement you can appeal against certain decisions to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

Who makes sure all this happens?

  • School governors have a duty to make sure that their school is planning to include all pupils and making the necessary changes. All schools have to produce a written special educational needs policy.
  • Local Education Authorities have duties to complete and review Statements within clear timescales. The new Act means that they also have to monitor admissions of children with special educational needs and remind schools what they are expected to provide from their own budgets.
  • OFSTED inspect schools and education authorities regularly and have to report on how special education is being provided.
  • The decisions of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal now have to be carried out by schools and education authorities within clear time limits.
  • The Secretary of State can instruct schools or education authorities to change their plans if they fail to stop discrimination.



APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 11). Special Educational Needs Code of Practice 2002, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Last Updated: May 7, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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