Who is responsible for purchasing my son’s disability equipment?

My son is 16 and in last year of secondary. We are in the process of transferring statement to EHCP.

We have a temporary Physio covering maternity leave.

My son has recently outgrown his standing frame and the Physio says, medically he does not need a standing frame, she wants him to stand in his walker in English or maths. This decreases his hand function. His walker is banned from the cookery class as is a H&S risk.

I have a 2012 private Physio report and a 2015 NHS Physio report, both say he needs to stand in a standing frame for 50 minutes a day, he also has a Physio and walking program to follow. All quantified in part 3 of his statement. The private Physio stressed that skills could be lost as he goes through puberty if this is not done.

The private Physio emailed the LA and SENCO on Saturday, stating that she had viewed the photographs and video I sent her of my son in his walker. She recommends that he still needs a standing frame to access the curriculum fully.

The LA would agree to buy a standing frame but of course cannot because the current Physio will not recommend it.

I have heard nothing from anyone concerned.

What would my next step please?

I have refused to accept the EHCP as it is.

ipsea answers

Julie Moktadir, IPSEA CEO says:

From what you’ve told me, your LA seems to have misunderstood their legal duty under s.324(5) Education Act 1996 during transition.  Whilst the process of transition is taking place, the current statement of SEN still has effect in law.  This means that if the provision of a standing frame is specified in Part 3 then, no matter what the physio says (and no matter what discussions are on-going about the draft EHC Plan), the LA must ensure that this is provided.

IPSEA has a model letter you can use to complain when the LA is failing to arrange the provision in the statement and it’s found at “Common Problem 6” here:

https://www.ipsea.org.uk/file-manager/SENlaw/FAQs-about-statements/common-problems-and-model-letters-relating-to-statements-of-special-educational-needs.pdf

When you get a draft EHC Plan you have the right to make representations about its content.  You are right to ask that your son’s need for the standing frame is included in Section B of the EHC Plan and both the provision of the frame itself and the programme of therapy to support your son’s physical training with it is included in Section F (specified and quantified in the same way that it currently is in Part 3).

If there’s a disagreement between professionals as to what your son’s needs are and what provision is required to meet those needs, then the LA needs to get further information and advice to try to resolve this. However, it seems here that the LA agrees with the private therapist and the NHS report from 2015 but the fact that the temporary physio won’t authorise it (and, presumably, pay for it) is the real problem.

Ultimately, as was the case with statements, the LA’s duty is to specify and quantify all of the special educational provision required by your son’s SEN in Section F of the EHC Plan.  You can certainly remind the LA of this duty (s.37 Children and Families Act 2014).

It’s also worth remembering that the local partners in your area are obliged to work co-operatively with LAs in carrying out their duties under Part 3 of the Act.  A failure to do so might be something that OFSTED and the CQC are interested in addressing when they carry out their Local Area SEND Inspections:

https://www.ipsea.org.uk/news/2016/briefing-on-local-area-send-inspections

If the LA won’t agree to specify and quantify certain provision then you would be able to appeal to the SEND Tribunal once you have the final EHC Plan.