Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Boris Johnson’s response to the SEND Green Paper

Boris Johnson’s response to the SEND Green Paper

Boris Johnson’s response to the SEND Green Paper

Please see email response below from Boris John in response to the SEND Green Paper (Case Ref: BJ18409):

Dear Dr Kennedy,

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the Government’s plans for reforms to the SEND system.

The Government has ambitious plans to level up opportunities for all children and young people, without exception. This includes children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) as well as for every other child.

I would like to assure you that, following an extensive review of the current SEND system, the Department for Education is aware of the need for much greater consistency in how needs are identified and supported. This means that decisions will be made on what a child or young person needs in cooperation with their families, rather than where they live or the setting which they attend. Furthermore, the Department intends to create a more inclusive education system to ensure that children and young people with SEND are set up to thrive.

As you may know, as part of the SEND Green Paper, the Department for Education has said that it will introduce a number of measures, including increasing the total investment in the schools’ budget with an additional £1 billion during the 2022-23 academic year to support children and young people with the most complex needs.

Alongside this, an investment of £2.6 billion will be made over the next three years to deliver new places and improve existing provision for children and young people with SEND. The Department has also said that it will fund more than 10,000 additional respite placements and invest £82 million in a network of family hubs which means that more children, young people and their families will be able to access wraparound support.

I am glad that the Department is also commissioning analysis to better understand the support that SEND children and young people need from the health system, to ensure that there is a clear focus on SEND in the healthcare workforce planning system,

Finally, while I fully appreciate the concerns that you, and others, have raised, these proposals are currently subject to a consultation, which is due to close on 1 July 2022. I would therefore encourage everyone to reflect on these proposals and respond to the consultation to ensure that the Department hears from as many voices as possible to ensure the new system is delivered to the highest standard:

Thank you again for contacting me.

Yours sincerely,

Boris Johnson MP
Member of Parliament (Uxbridge and South Ruislip)

The Importance of Reasonable Adjustments – a reminder on World Autism Awareness Day

The Importance of Reasonable Adjustments – a reminder on World Autism Awareness Day

The Importance of Reasonable Adjustments – a reminder on World Autism Awareness Day

By Mandy Aulak and Sean Kennedy, Talem Law.

As a law firm which specialises in employment and special educational needs, we are instructed to support many disabled people who are in difficulty. Almost without exception, the problems experienced relate to a failure to make reasonable adjustments. This means that the disabled person is effectively excluded from, for example, the workplace or educational environment.

World Autism Awareness Day provides an opportunity to remind the autistic community and other people with disabilities of the importance of making reasonable adjustments. Our view is that they are an essential part of disability inclusion.

The clinical description of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) given in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) – which is the manual often used by people making a diagnosis, says the person must be disabled by their condition on a day-to-day basis.

This is in line with the definition of disability given in section 6 of the Equality Act 2010 which says that a person is disabled (or has a statutory disability) if their disability has a substantial (meaning more than minor or trivial) adverse (negative) effect on one’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, which includes carrying out the responsibilities associated with a job. If a person has a disability that complies with this definition, then reasonable adjustments must be made – albeit there are some very limited exceptions, for example in the “armed forces”.

Reasonable adjustments are made to avoid the specific difficulties a person experiences because they have a statutory disability and there is no defence to not making reasonable adjustments. But it is important to be aware that, for example, the employer, service provider, school etc is only under a duty to make the adjustments for an identified person if:

  1. they know the person is disabled, i.e., they may have been told OR
  2. even if they have not been told, they have sufficient knowledge to conclude the person disabled.

It is important to appreciate that not all autistic people will require the same reasonable adjustments to be made. Further, the adjustments need only be ‘reasonable,’ and this will be determined by factors such as:

  • Their effectiveness in substantially reducing any disadvantage.
  • Cost
  • How practical it would be to make the adjustment given the circumstances.

So, what does all this mean for autistic people? As we have stated, our experience leads us to conclude that a failure to implement reasonable adjustments is often the precursor to exclusion. We therefore offer the following our IDLE checklist for people to follow. The word IDLE was chosen to as this is what disabled people, employers, schools, universities shouldn’t be when approaching the issue of reasonable adjustments:

(I) Inform – the organisation who has the duty to make reasonable adjustments should be told a person is disabled.

(D) Detail – the disabled person should describe how, for example, their job is made harder because they are disabled.

(L) List – a list of reasonable adjustments should be composed and implemented.

(E) Evaluate – the effectiveness of the reasonable adjustments should be assessed after they have been implemented.

We appreciate that many autistic people are not comfortable going through the above process and this is understandable. The difficulty is that, until it is changed, we are stuck with the current regime.

To conclude, inclusion is a “must” not a “nice to have”. We are firm believers in real inclusion but know we are certainly not there yet. We have shared our knowledge and experience in the hope that we can play some part in achieving true equality for disabled people.

Autistic People and the Police

Autistic People and the Police

Autistic People and the Police

By Detective Chief Inspector Dion Brown, Metropolitan Police Service and Sean Kennedy, Barrister.

Anna Kennedy Online and the Metropolitan Police Service are soon to publish a document entitled: Stop and Search – Guidance for Autistic People.

Many stakeholders have contributed to this document. It is designed to be a neutral look at a high-profile procedure used by the police and how it should be used sensitively, appropriately, and professionally with autistic people. It also looks at what can be done if these high standards are not adhered to.

One area explored in the document is the role of the police when autistic people are victims of crime. Whilst it is certainly the case that some progress has been made in achieving autism acceptance throughout society, regrettably there is much work to be done.

One unwelcome reality of modern life which proves that we have not crossed the inclusion finishing line is the existence of Disability Hate Crime. Simply put these are attacks against disabled people because they are disabled. Often, they can be perpetrated by people close to a disabled person. The effects of such attacks can be devastating for a disabled person. Further, the evidence suggests that disability hate crimes and hate incidents are less likely to be reported.

The police are aware of how the victims of disability hate crime can be left traumatised and feeling isolated. It is because of this that a clear part of their mission is to react to and be proactive when it comes to such crimes or incidents.

Whilst it would be far better if disabled people were not subject to such reprehensible behaviour, the police are keen to make clear that there is a low threshold for them becoming involved. Where autistic people are victims, they at least can be assured that they are not alone and that at the very least the police will follow through and investigate should an autistic person seek their support.

It is also important to realise that the involvement of autistic people in the police service should not only be seen in terms of them being the victims of this kind of appalling hate crime. Autistic people have, are and will continue to be an important and integral part of the police service.

Applications from autistic people to become a police officer are certainly welcomed. That said, it is important that any autistic person thinking of becoming a police officer be aware that selection standards are challenging. It is not a reasonable adjustment to insist that standards be lowered either during the selection process or when on duty. What is also true is that there highly valued police officers who are autistic.

World Autism Day is described as an annual celebration of autistic people to raise awareness of developmental disorders and neurodivergence. Many people and organisations use this valuable opportunity, and this is to be welcomed.

It may not be obvious to many people, but part of this movement is the police service who accept that their job may not be finished.  But there is no doubt that autistic people have every reason to be assured that they are both listened to by the police and can, like everyone else in society, possibly become part of this essential service.

‘Affluent families’ to blame for rise in special needs hearings

‘Affluent families’ to blame for rise in special needs hearings

‘Affluent families’ to blame for rise in special needs hearings

A report for the Local Government Association (LGA) blaming the increase in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) tribunal cases on an ‘unbalanced’ statutory framework and ‘affluent’ families using lawyers has been heavily criticised by legal charities and campaigners.

The number of appeals to tribunals over educational needs disagreements has more than doubled in the past decade. According to the report, ‘Agreeing to disagree?’, by consultancy Isos Partnership, councils reported that ‘tribunal appeals were more likely to come from more affluent families and less likely to come from families from more deprived backgrounds. highlighting a potential lack of equity of access to dispute resolution’.

Local authorities lose 96% of SEND tribunal cases, which disability website Special Needs Jungle says councils spend £40m a year in legal fees contesting. Almost of a third of cases relate to a local authority’s failure to assess a child.

Click here for full details.

High Court calls time on council delays

High Court calls time on council delays

High Court calls time on council delays for children with special needs and disabilities

In a landmark judgment issued on 8th March 2022 the High Court has made it clear that every local council must keep to fixed legal time limits when reviewing the needs of children and young people with special educational needs.

This is good news from the High Court, whereby local authorities can no longer delay updating EHC plans for months on end. Draft amended plan must be issued within 4 weeks of the annual review, with the final amended plan issued within 12 weeks of the annual review. Click here for details.

For those parents and young people awaiting an amended EHC plan following an annual review, the following template can be incorporated into a letter to your LA that explains what it must do to comply with the law: Click here to download the template letter we have created.

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