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Education Act 2002

Special Educational Needs: Wales

Sections 191 to 195
Section 191: Regional provision for special educational needs in Wales

371.There are currently 22 LEAs in Wales, all of which are relatively small in size. The largest has a pupil population of just over 50,000 while the smallest is around 10,000. All the authorities are experiencing difficulties in providing for the full range of children with SEN in terms of the provision required and / or the provision of support services. This section enables the NAW to direct an LEA in Wales, on behalf of a number of LEAs in Wales, to consider whether SEN of children might be arranged more effectively or efficiently by making regional provision. “Regional provision” may be provision of education by a school (a regional school) maintained by one authority for their children and children from other areas, or the provision of goods and services by one authority to other authorities or schools. The LEA must report its conclusions to the NAW. The NAW may issue guidance to LEAs in relation to these duties which those LEAs must have regard to.

Section 192: Directions to bring forward proposals to secure regional provision

372.The section enables the NAW, by order, to direct an LEA or governing body to exercise their powers to make proposals for the establishment, alteration or discontinuance of schools with a view to establishing a regional school providing for pupils with SEN. A direction may also require proposals to cover arrangements to be made for the provision of education or goods and services by one authority on a regional basis. The school re-organisation element of such proposals is covered by existing statutory procedures set out in Schedule 6 to the SSFA. The NAW may make regulations setting out procedural requirements for proposals for the provision of education or goods / services.

Section 193: Powers of Assembly to make proposals to secure regional provision

373.This section enables the NAW itself to publish such proposals if it has made an order under section 192 and either no proposals have been made or the time allowed by the order for publication of proposals has elapsed. It also enables the NAW to make provision for the procedure to be followed for such proposals, which may build on existing procedures set out in Schedule 7 to the SSFA.

Section 194: Welsh LEAs’ powers to make regional provision

374.This section amends provisions in the EA 96 to allow an LEA to establish a regional school or provide goods and services to support pupils with SEN in any part of Wales.

Section 195: The Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales

375.This section introduces Schedule 18, which amends the EA 96 so that SEN appeals that would otherwise be made to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) will instead be made to separate Tribunals in England and Wales. At present SEN appeals are made to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal (which becomes the SENDIST from September 2002), which covers both England and Wales. The amendments provide that where the LEA concerned is in England the appeal will be to the SENDIST, and where it is in Wales, to a new Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales.

376.Under the EA 96, regulations relating to the SENDIST are made by the Secretary of State. In accordance with Article 5 of the National Assembly for Wales (Transfer of Functions) Order 1999 (SI 1999/672) they are made with the agreement of the NAW, so far as they relate to Wales. Paragraph 5 of Schedule 18 to the Act amends the EA 96 to give the regulation making power for the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales to the NAW, who also take on the other tribunal functions of the Secretary of State in relation to the new Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales.

377.The regulations relating to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal deal with the procedure to be followed by the Tribunal when hearing cases. The existing regulations under section 336 of the EA 96 are the Special Educational Needs Tribunal Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/600). Regulations also provide for the timetable within which LEAs must comply with tribunal orders (made under section 336A of the EA 96), and the timetable for LEAs to comply with unopposed appeals treated as being determined as in favour of the appellant (made under section 326A of the EA 96). The functions exercised by the Secretary of State include the appointment of lay members of the Tribunal and the payment of the Tribunal’s expenses.

378.Paragraphs 7 to 11 of Schedule 18 amend the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to allow disability discrimination claims brought by disabled pupils or prospective pupils against schools in Wales to be heard by the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales, rather than the SENDIST. The procedures to be followed in hearing disability claims, or joint SEN and disability claims, will be set out in regulations to be made by the Secretary of State with the agreement of the NAW.

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