Supporting parents at the Special Educational Needs Tribunal
The 1993 Education Act created a new framework for the provision of special education. However, the Act created not only the Code of Practice with its emphasis on partnership with parents, but also the Special Educational Needs Tribunal to which parents might turn when partnership had failed. Even before the Tribunals had begun work, there were widely differing views on whether the new legislation would increase partnership or lead to increased conflict. The Department for Education at the time claimed that the number of parents making appeals against LEA decisions would not increase. The voluntary sector and the legal profession took a different view and braced themselves for ‘a boom in business’ ( TES, 25 February 1994). Which of these two views has proved correct is only now beginning to emerge. The Guardian reported in 1994 that ‘the hope is that the existence of the new tribunals will sharpen up LEA practice and eventually, once the backlog of the old system has been worked through, keep appeals to a minimum.’ ( Guardian, 1 March). We are now beginning to see whether this hope has been fulfilled.