Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West, Labour)
Thank you, Mr Williams. Prynhawn da—good afternoon—and croeso yn ol—welcome back—to our proceedings. Having heard what the Minister has to say, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment. However, we remain concerned that the Government should get this right. We are still very concerned, as our next group of amendments and other amendments will show, about the procedure that the Government are introducing in relation to the review panels.
I welcome what the Minister said about there being explicit reference to SEN in the future guidance. We look forward to hearing more about that and I thank him for telling the Committee that that is what he intends to do. I have one question for him on the point raised by the Chair of the Select Committee, who asked a series of questions. I understand why the Minister perhaps was unable at this point to answer every question in detail that the Chair of the Select Committee put to him about the matter and that he wants to consult further on exactly how it will work. However, the note from the Department states:
“Parents will also be able to request that an SEN expert attends the panel where it is relevant to the exclusion.”
Can the Minister tell the Committee two points about that relating to the hon. Gentleman’s questions? First, can that expert be chosen by the parents themselves in those circumstances—in other words, will they be allowed to choose who their expert is? Secondly, the note uses the words
“will…be able to request.”
Will parents have the right to have an expert to give evidence to the panel, rather than simply a right to request, because those are two different things? I would be interested to know what the Government’s intention is with regard to that—is it to grant a right to request or to grant a right to parents to be able to have somebody there who is an SEN expert? In addition, will that expert be someone of their choice?
I will not press amendment 39 to a vote, although the Minister did say that the school should assess all special needs where the school has been encountering a series of poor behaviour. Clearly, we would like that provision to be strengthened but, at this point, I beg to ask leave to withdraw amendment 27. Before the end of the debate, I hope to hear an answer to my question.