To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what powers (a) her Department and (b) local education authorities have to intervene in cases where a (i) maintained school, (ii) academy and (iii) free school have not made provision for a pupil with special educational needs.
The statutory duties on all schools, including maintained schools, academies and free schools, in relation to pupils with special educational needs and disability (SEND) are set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice 0-25 years.
The Education Act 1996 (Sections 496 and 497) gives the Secretary of State for Education powers to issue directions to school governing bodies where it is determined that they have failed to carry out a statutory duty or have done so in an unreasonable way. These powers are incorporated into the funding agreements for academies and free schools.
The Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is responsible for ensuring that academy trusts comply with the requirements set out in the Funding Agreement. If a trust fails to comply with these requirements, it would be regarded as a breach of its funding agreement. In such cases, the ESFA will investigate and may use its powers to intervene; and, where there are significant concerns or a trust fails to improve, may ultimately consider termination of the funding agreement.
The Children and Families Act 2014 sets out local councils’ duties to identify and meet the needs of children and young people with SEND. The act also places a duty on schools, including maintained schools and academies, to co-operate with local councils in the exercise of their functions in relation to SEND.