Children and Families BillLords pass Speech and Language Therapy Amendment
During the recent Report stage debate, the House of Lords amended the Children and Families Bill to say that speech and language therapy should be treated as special educational provision if it ‘educates or trains’ children. This means that when the new SEN system is introduced from September 2014, speech and language therapy in EHC Plans (the replacement for statements) should be classified as special educational provision.  This maintains the current legal position.

Why is it so important for speech and language therapy to be special educational provision?
It means that if the health service cannot or will not provide the speech and language therapy the child needs, the local education authority must arrange it. Many parents find that this is the only way to access the speech and language therapy their children need. For more information about the law on speech and language therapy, see our booklet Accessing speech and language therapy for your child: A guide to the law.

The Government’s Commitment
The minister, Baroness Northover, confirmed it was the Government’s intention that speech and language therapy should, in most cases, continue to be categorised as special educational provision.  She said in the debate,

‘In our view, a local authority and, where relevant, a tribunal, in considering whether healthcare provision or social care provision was to be treated as special educational provision, would ask themselves whether it was educational, taking the approach set out in the current SEN code of practice in respect of speech and language therapy. We have carried this into the new landscape of the Bill in relation to education and training. We believe that our wording is expressed a little more simply than the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, and that it is consistent with the present approach.’  The full debate can be read in Hansard.

In certain situations, ministerial statements can be submitted as valid evidence to courts of law or tribunals, so it is extremely helpful that the minister spelled out the Government’s position in parliament.

A triumph for parents
This successful outcome marks the culmination of a sustained campaign led by Afasic, working together with our partners: The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, The Communication Trust, IPSEA and SEC (The Special Education Consortium). Most of all, though, it is a triumph for all those parents who contacted their MPs and pressed for clarity on this important issue.

Working together we can make a difference!

2 comments on “SUCCESS! – Speech and Language Therapy will remain an Educational Provision

  1. Speech and Language dismissed my child when she entered high school, I tried twice to ask them to intervene in high school they refused because they had supported her for 7 years and said it was up to the high school to provide any programmes that she needed. 6 years later I find no interventions have been carried out in school she went in 5 years 1 month behind in reading and writing she leaves 12 years and 4 months behind when tested in February 2016. There is no accountability for the school or LA. Speech and Language walked away 5 years ago when she was diagnosed as severe specific language impairment. EHC plan was in place never followed now been checked out badly worded can’t be challenged in court.

    • Dear Carole,
      I’m sorry to hear about your struggle to access speech and language therapy for your child. You are quite right it is very difficult to hold schools, local authorities and speech and language therapy services to account. This is why this judgement is so important – the confirmation that SLT is an educational provision means that local authorities are obliged to ensure it is delivered. Of course, as you have found, it is essential to make sure that your statement/EHC Plan is worth the paper it is written on in the first place. This is something the Afasic Helpline can help with and we would encourage all parents to talk to us regularly. We are here specifically to support parents in dealing with these issues – do call us.

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