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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34895
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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Does a mother have a legal right to direct communication

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Does a mother have a legal right to direct communication with someone in a school who is teaching her child?

Thank you for your question

My name is Clare

I shall do my best to help you but I need some further information first

Could you explain a little more about what is happening and what you need to know

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I am writing on behalf of a friend, Maria, who is not a native English speaker. She has a 15 year old son, David, with Asperger's who is on roll at a private special school, St John's, but is funded as a state pupil, by East Sussex County Council. However David has half his timetable at the University Technical College in Newhaven because he is gifted in technology. An issue arose about one of the lessons where David was having a problem and Maria tried to contact the person at UTC who is David's tutor there by email. A reply to the email was sent by the person at UTC responsible for pupils with special educational needs stating that because David is on role at St John's, all communication with UTC staff must go through St John's. He did not address her concerns. Both St John's and UTC are private institutions and St John's has negotiated a contract for UTC to provide tuition to David in some subjects. Maria was not consulted in the drawing up of that contract. She has never seen it or consented to its provisions. She has never waived any rights she may have in respect of David's education. She feels she should be entitled to the same access to teachers who are teaching David as she would be if David were in any ordinary school. This is the second example of the SEN coordinator blocking communication with UTC teachers regarding David. In my Reader's Digest guide Know Your rights it states that in the event of a problem at school the pupil's classroom teacher should be the first person to contact which suggests to me that there is a fundamental right of parents to communicate directly with people who are teaching their children. Is this correct?

Thank you for that

I am afraid that whilst someone with parental responsibility is entitled to have access to the school records on their child they do NOT have an automatic right to speak to every teacher

However I am concerned at the approach of UTC which appears to be obstructive to say the least.

They cannot hide behind the fact that there is a "contract" between the schools - that is a matter of payment not a matter of care.

I suspect that this is a matter of the administrators not understanding the difference between the payment and the provision of the services

Your friend can insist on dealing directly with the institution that is reaching her son and should arrange an interview with the SENCO

If all else fails she should demand that the County Council assist her in dealing with the matter

Please ask if you need further details

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Hi Clare,
Thank you for your answer to my question. There are two points of clarification.
You say that Maria has a right to direct communication with UTC. The Senco at UTC says he will meet her if it is organised by St John’s and if St John’s staff are present. Can she insist on having a private meeting with him?
You say Maria has a right to view David’s school records. Does she have a right to make or have copies of those records?
Thank you for considering these clarifications.

I am afraid that she can only insist on that if the other SENCO refuses to attend

Provided they do not relate to anyone else AND her son has not refused permission she should be given copies.

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