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Can anyone help with legal stuff about getting info from LA

(6 Posts)
Peaceflower Wed 22-Dec-10 11:12:24

Quick background. I am in the statementing process. At a meeting to discuss the proposed statement, I was told a mainstream school would be named and that all the local mainstreams had been consulted and that they could meet dd's needs.

Now I know they can't, because I'd been told so when I went to visit them before they were consulted. I even have it in writing from one.

So I asked to see a copy of the school responses. The reply is they are not obliged to disclose internal communication and do not do so. Apparently their legal team have been consulted.

Can I insist?

bigcar Wed 22-Dec-10 11:36:13

My understanding was that any information held about you you should have access to, you may need to put a freedom of information request in though. Have a look here

I'd also be tempted to ring a couple of schools to see if they'll tell you if they've seen his papers.

Peaceflower Wed 22-Dec-10 12:17:53

Bigcar, thanks for that. I've had a look at the link. V. Interesting.

Your suggestion sounds good, I think I'll visit another school in the new hear.

I would be v grateful to hear from others about their views, experiences, knowledge, etc.

electra Wed 22-Dec-10 13:00:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sugarcandymistletoe Thu 23-Dec-10 18:04:53

I was in a similar position when the LA was consulting schools for secondary transfer. I made a general subject access request for my chid's file - I will paste my letter below. I think I copied it from another website, I probably would have used slightly different wording but it covers the legal bases you need.

I got copies of my DS's Ed Psych results, panel meeting minutes (very sparse), letters/emails to and from schools about whether they could meet needs. Mine was a slightly different situation though, as all of the schools were special schools and were either in other LAs or independent special schools. So it may be true that internal correspondence does not have to be released.

Still, it's worth doing a SAR anyway, as it should uncover any information that is available. You might have to wait up to 40 days to get a result and they can charge for photocopying, though my LA didn't.

I think your DD may be older than my DS, so 'Gillick competent'. You might have to enclose a letter signed by her to confirm her permission to access her data.

You might also try writing to the schools directly, they may be willing to copy you into their reply. I found that some of the schools I approached were helpful and willing to do this, as they could see that the LA was trying to push DS into an inappropriate placement.

Subject Access Request letter:
-----------------------------------
Dear Sir or Madam

DPA request for XXXX YYY, DOB 00/00/0000

I am writing to make a formal written Subject Access Request for my son, XXXX YYY, under the under the Data Protection Act 1998. I am requesting a copy of all records pertaining to XXXX YYY, held on both paper and electronic format.
This should include minutes of panel meetings, notes, e-mails, records of conversations, telephone notes and office notes plus all formal reports, assessments and letters sent or received. I confirm that I am acting on behalf of my son in this matter, who is 00 years old and therefore unable to make the request himself, and that the request made on my son’s behalf is in his best interest.

XXXX was assessed for a Statement of Special Educational Needs by ZZZZZZZZZ County Council in 0000 following a parental request on 00/00/0000. He has a proposed statement and his secondary school placement is currently being considered by the authority. His SEN Case Manager is AAA BBB.

I understand I am entitled to these within 40 days and that you may charge for the costs of photocopying. If you need further information from me, or a fee, please let me know in writing as soon as possible.

May I take this opportunity to thank you in advance.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

SCM

StarlightWonderStarlightBright Thu 23-Dec-10 20:01:48

Peaceflower What has probably happened is that these schools don't feel they can meet his needs, but the reasons they have given aren't worded in a way that would fit in with the Code of Practice criteria.

Or alternatively, they are scared of the LA and saying that they can't meet his needs because the LA can tell them that they still must and then interfere in their internal management. It actually takes quite a brave Head Teacher to say they can't meet a child's needs because mainstreaming is so embedded in policies and parental rights etc. I know this because I have been unlucky enough to find that rare HT who has made it clear she doesn't want ds despite our/parents desire for him to attend that school.

Now, the reason the LA doesn't want you to have the documents is because you could use them in a tribunal situation. Ideally you would get hold of them through a subject access request (very easy because no-one can pretend they don't exist) and then write to each of the individual schools asking them to clarify what they meant, using the terminology from the Code of Practice in your question in order for them to frame their answer within this.

Another reason, is if you send him to a M/S school that has said they can't meet his needs but has been forced to by the LA, this also gives you ammunition later. If he fails to progress at any time you have a 'told you so' letter and an almost direct train to a Special School.

Good luck.

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