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Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal

Volume 481: debated on Monday 20 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans are in place to assess and review the effects of implementation of the changes to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. (227568)

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) has established a special user group, on which the parent-led Independent Panel for Special Education Advice (IPSEA) is represented, to advise it on what is practical and appropriate for users in the new arrangements. The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) will be able to ask the Senior President of Tribunals to report on this group's work in the annual report that the Senior President of Tribunals submits to him.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department has taken in response to representations from parents about the changes to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal to be made on 3 November 2008. (227574)

The judicial management group of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) has been running a user group since June of this year with key stakeholders to consider the rules, practice directions and case management processes. A meeting has taken place with the National Association of Independent Schools and Non-Maintained Special Schools and the Independent Panel for Special Education Advice. The majority of the representations from parents have been incorporated into the final rules of procedure and practice directions for the jurisdiction of SENDIST within the Health, Education and Social Care Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal. SENDIST acting judicial lead, Mr. Simon Oliver, has attended and is continuing to attend parent organisations to help explain the changes and contribute to parent representative training.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the time needed by organisations providing support to parents going to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal to retrain their staff to advise parents on the new system. (227576)

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal has been specifically allocated £20,000 to train user organisations about the new processes. We are providing training for any representative of service users who wishes to sign up for the courses in the programme. Training will take place throughout November in Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and London. Over 400 individuals have signed up for the free half-day training. It will be delivered by the judiciary, parent representatives and local education authorities representative members of the special user group.