Different Perspectives of Parents and Educatinal Psychologists when a Child is Referred for EBD Assessment
One of the main aims of the 1981 and 1993 Education Acts has been to encourage parents to take an active part in the assessment of their children who might have special educational needs. Parents have been given rights to be present at assessments, to make written contributions, to seek the advice of other professionals not nominated by the LEA and to appeal against decisions made. They also have access to all professionals’ reports. The whole ethos is one of seeing parents as equal partners in the assessment process. The legislation reflects the impact of several writers who have stressed the vital importance of fully involving parents in all aspects of their child’s education (see, for example, Wolfendale, 1985 and 1992; Mittler and McConachie, 1983). Indeed for many years it has been the view of the present government that parents should play a greater part in planning and shaping their children’s education. Unfortunately since the implementation of the 1981 Act there has been growing concern that parents have not felt that they were working in genuine partnership with other professionals. For example very few use the opportunity offered by the Act to write their own views about their child despite the efforts of Wolfendale (1985) and others to make it easier for them to do so. The complex appeals procedures may have left parents feeling they were fighting a losing battle particularly as so many appeals have been unsuccessful. Time will tell if the tribunal system introduced as part of the 1993 Act will improve matters in this regard. See Farrell (1988) for a more detailed discussion of the issues. Marks (1991) has studied 1981 Act case conference reviews and in her analysis of communications between mothers and professionals she reported that ambiguities and mothers’ uncertainties were denied in favour of promoting a united professional front.